Moroccan Chicken B’stilla #chickenpie #Morocco with Carrot salad

This is another excellent dinner party dish which is easy to make but takes a bit of preparation. If you are cooking for more than 4 people, then it’s easy to double this recipe to make 2 pies at the same time.

The combination of the chicken cooked in Moroccan spices, icing sugar almonds and lemon zest is mouthwateringly divine.

I cook carrots in with the chicken to make a carrot salad at the same time to serve with the B’stilla. The carrots cooked in the chickeny liquid are delicious when zested up with citrus and ginger flavours. The recipe is at the bottom here.

B’stilla or Pastilla? The real thing in Fes.

The best B’stilla we had was a pigeon version in Fes made with homemade filo pastry at a restaurant called Dar Tajine tucked away in the heart of the Old Médina. https://www.dartajine.com. Dinner there cooked by Salaheddin the Owner and Chef was a really memorable experience – it felt like we were in his home for a family dinner. In Fes they call B’stilla “Pastilla”.

My recipe uses chicken and store-bought filo pastry but tastes pretty delicious as well.

RECIPE

Preparation time including marination:4 hours Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken large thigh cutlets with bone in and skin on
  • 8 large sheets of filo pastry
  • half a bunch of parsley
  • Half a bunch of coriander
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic smashed to a paste
  • 1 teaspoon saffron fronds
  • 4 teaspoons ras el hanout (Moroccan spice mix)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon powder
  • 3 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup of flaked almonds
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 litres of boiling water
Freespiritfood.net B’stilla

Method

1. Place saffron fronds in 1/4 cup of just boiled water and allow to steep. Remove filo pastry from freezer to allow defrost for 3.5 hours.

2. In a seperate bowl mix garlic, ras el hanout, lemon juice(not the zest), salt, saffron and saffron water olive oil and mix well

3. Place chicken thigh cutlets in a big bowl and massage the ras el hanout mixture into the chicken. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Marinate for at least 2 hours.

4. Strip the leaves from the parsley and coriander. Keep the stems separately to leaves.

5. Peel and chop the carrot and onion into large chunks.

6. Put the onion, carrots, parsley and coriander stems into a large pot, add boiling water, then chicken. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken for an hour, skimming from time to time.

7. Check carrots during this time and remove from the cooking liquid and place in a bowl after about 30 minutes when they are tender.

8. Remove chicken from the cooking liquid and place in a bowl or plate and allow to cool.

9. Carefully strain cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil it until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup.

10. Shred chicken into a bowl using your fingers, removing the bone and skin. (I wear gloves to do this.)

11. Chop parsley and coriander leaves and add to shredded chicken., along with the lemon zest, 1/2 the cinnamon, the flaked almonds,and the reduced cooking liquid to moisten the chicken.

12. Mix the rest of cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar.

13. Pre-heat oven goes 180 degrees Celsius.

14. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place one sheet of filo pastry flat on it, the brush with melted butter. Add another sheet of pastry on top, brushing with butter and repeat until you have 7 sheets of pastry on top of each other to form the base.

15. Dust the base with some of the icing sugar mixture, then pile chicken mixture in the middle to form a flattish round heap.

16. Sprinkle rest of icing sugar mixture over the top of the chicken. Add an extra sheet of pastry folded in half over the top of the chicken. Then fold over all the pastry from the bottom to form a neat package using melted butter to seal it all together as you go.

15. Turn the parcel over, add a small decoration like a heart cut out of pastry to the centre if you like, brush with melted butter. Place in hot oven and cook for 30-35 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

16. Allow to rest for a while, then lay kitchen string across the package to create a ceasing, sprinkle plain icing sugar over it all, carefully remove string and voila your perfectly presented B’stilla is ready to serve. If you have a doily you can sprinkle the icing sugar through this to create the pattern. If that’s too hard just sprinkle the whole thing with icing sugar!

17. Slice and serve with carrot and green salad.

Carrot Salad

Ingredients:

  • Carrots cooked in chicken cooking liquid
  • Handful of chopped parsley leaves
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Juice of half an orange
  • 1/2 finger length of fresh ginger julienned into strips

While the B’stilla is resting, heat your carrots for 1 minute in a microwave,

Add the rest of the ingredients to the carrots, mix through and serve with B’stilla and a crisp green salad.

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Beef Wellington #easyaspie

Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that looks really impressive but is easy as pie to make.

This recipe can be prepared in just over an hour including making veggies on the side.

You can choose to also put a layer of pate between the beef and mushroom mixture but I don’t always include it as it does make it much richer.

Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g piece of good quality beef fillet , tied at intervals with string
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 10 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 6 large mushrooms diced very finely
  • 1 small onion diced very finely
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed to a paste
  • handful of thyme leaves stripped from the stem
  • 2 tablespoons butter and a dash of olive oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry defrosted
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and chopped into quarters
  • Broccoli florets or green beans

1. Defrost puff pastry. Heat non-stick frying pan until hot. Sear beef for 2-3 minutes to brown and seal all sides.

2. Place beef on plate and put in the freezer for 15 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

3. While beef is cooling, Place peeled and chopped potatoes rubbed with olive oil on a baking tray and place on lower shelf of oven.

4. Then the mushroom mixture. Heat pan again and add olive oil and butter to melt, then add onion and cook until transparent, add garlic paste and thyme leaves and mix through, then add chopped mushrooms, season with black pepper until just cooked through and moisture evaporates. Mixture should be dry. Put on a flat plate and place in the freezer to cool for 5 minutes.

5. Remove beef from freezer, remove string, rub all over with mustard.

6. Lie prosciutto slices flat on a sheet of plastic wrap, overlapping the prosciutto to form a base to wrap the beef in. Place beef at one edge of the sheet of prosciutto and roll over using the plastic wrap to help create a neat parcel.

7. Place on piece of the puff pastry sheets with a slight overlap, sealing the two pieces together to create one large base sheet. Place beef on the pastry to encase it and seal the ends using a fork. Use excess pastry to create strips and pastry leaves to decorate the parcel. Brush with beaten egg.

8. Place parcel carefully on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake in oven for 30 minutes until puff pastry is puffed and golden. Check potatoes and turn. While beef is cooking, microwave broccoli or green beans pieces until just cooked.

9. Rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing in thickish and serving with roast potatoes and broccoli. Dinner for 4.

Pink in the middle….

Secret Garden brunch at Daisy Green #daisygreen #london

Reliving memories of my recent trip to London as the city rolled towards the COVID-19 shutdown last month…it was a slightly surreal visit to one of my favourite cities but filled with nice memories that will stay with me,

I found this delightful cafe called Daisy Green in Portman Village, on the corner of Seymour st and New Quebec St, just behind Oxford st.

Turns out it’s part of a group called the Daisy Green collection described on their website as:

“The Daisy Green Collection brings relaxed and buzzing Australian food and coffee culture to London. Through individually designed cafes and restaurants, the Collection creates iconic spaces which quickly become local destinations and meeting points for surrounding residents and visitors.”

Downstairs at Daisy Green Portman Village

The Portman Village cafe has been designed by UK street artist, Shuby, into an Alice in Wonderland esq outdoor/indoor garden.

I managed to quench my craving for a real Australian coffee or two and enjoyed delicious avocado on toast, with a sprinkling of paprika, chives and a squeeze of lemon, and a side of real bacon!

I would have been one of the last customers prior to the shutdown, but I sincerely hope the cafe and Daisy Green collection come through the other side of the pandemic to flourish once more.

La Disfida Haberfield: authentic Italian at Home #ladisfida

Thanks to our friend David who suggested, organised, ordered, picked up and delivered our delicious and old school, authentic Italian dinner from Haberfield to Centennial Park tonight.

These are the real friends we all need when life is at risk of slipping into the mundane, but is surprised back into delight by people like him! The delivery was back door, dark lane, personal and special….we almost felt illegal! 😂

Special delivery..back door, back lane from Haberfield to Centennial Park!

Of course we thought we had over ordered but then we ended up devouring the delicious 😋 food with little hesitation. The potato croquettes went first, while we gave the pizza and polenta chips a quick reheat in the oven.

Next up was the divine thin, crispy pizza with delicious oven roasted beetroot salad and our polenta Chips with Gorgonzola sauce. Might need to do an extra lap of the Park to work these goodies off!

An appropriately Italian made dinner setting from Positano for our Italian dinner!
Polenta chips with Gorgonzola sauce.

Pizza, salad and cheeky chillies provide by La Disfida on the side!

Thanks again David! Your kindness and La Disfida’s commitment to old school Italian flavours made for a very special dinner!

Here’s the link to their menu if you are want to enjoy a similar great experience https://ladisfida.com.au

Nur Marvellous Moroccan Cooking Class #fes #nurrestaurant

So glad we made it to Morocco last year for a wonderful week in the Médina of Fes, and then visiting Rabat and Casablanca. It might be a while until we return now, so the closest we’ll come will be trying out some of the recipes we learnt at Nur Restaurant Cooking school with celebrity chef Najat Kaanache.

Najat was trained in Europe at restaurants like El Bulli and is quite a character, passionate about her restaurant and teaching others. https://najatkaanache.com

Najat welcomes us into the kitchen when we arrived at the restaurant for our 4 hour cooking marathon and explained the courses we would be cooking. She then handed over to her Assistant Chef to guide us through the actual hands-on experience as she had to zip to support a young friend who was in the selections for the Moroccan Soccer team!

Assistant Chef at Nur …our teacher for the day
The menu and courses we cooked!

We began by making a Moroccan spice paste which would be the base for a number of the dishes and salads. Then quickly moved onto making the Mafrouk or Moroccan flatbread from scratch.

Najat shows us the basics of making Mafrouk

We prepared the vegetables for 7 vegetable couscous and learnt how to “massage” and make couscous, grilled eggplants and peppers over the open gas flame, made a fish tagine, cummin carrots .

It was a busy few hours even with two helpers. We were the only people booked in as we had chosen a private class. This was excellent as we got to ask questions and get really hands-on, but then we had to eat it all ourselves as well!

Rubbing the couscous
Grilling peppers over the gas 🔥 flame!

Fish tagine with lemons, red capsicum and tomatoes with spice paste
Our chicken and 7 veg couscous

It was a great experience and the food tasted very authentic even though we had cooked it! The recipes were also all easy to recreate at home which we will now be doing to relive our memories as international travel seems like a thing of the past or a long way into the future right now.

Our fabulous Moroccan feast!

Pick-up #Joe’sTable for 10/10 Tasty #Thai at home

We are trying out our favourite restaurants at home during the isolation period and are discovering that the best know how to transform their dishes for takeaway better than others. One of these is the highly acclaimed Thai restaurant Joe’s Table in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Of course, Asian food is really perfect for take-away but Joe’s food, cooked by the man himself with flair and skill, is better than most!

Thai Fishcakes with crispy shallot, peanut and sweet chilli sauce

In my books, Joe Kitsana’s Asian-fusion classics get 10/10 for travel worthiness and eating readiness! Joe is still running his one-man show, with daily specials and his full dinner menu available, with a 10% discount for pick-up.

Orders can be placed by phone or Joe’s table from noon until 8 PM, with pick up beginning at 5 PM. Dinner menu can be viewed www.Facebook.com/ joestablesydney

While we missed the bizzy-buzzy atmosphere of eating-in at Joe’s Table, enjoying the taste sensations at home made for a delicious dinner at home.

Melt-in-the-mouth caramelised beef rib with pickled mustard greens, chilli and crispy shallots.

Last night we enjoyed Joe’s divine fishcakes smothered in the signature sweet chilli sauce with peanut and coriander topping; melt-in-the-mouth, slow-cooked beef rib with the lingering flavours of masterstock and star anise accompanied by flash-stir-fried crisp Asian greens with ginger and mushrooms.