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COOKING WITH ALIA

Chef Alia Al-Kasimi is the author of Moroccan Cooking The Easy Way. Her website and cooking blog, Cookingwithalia.com, was selected by YouTube Next Chef, a global partner development program focused on boosting the careers of some of the world’s next big chefs. Ms. Al-Kasimi enjoys fusing while fusing American and Arab cuisines. Here she shares a few of her recipes with Azizah readers and puts a new spin on some traditional recipes.



 

Spiced Hot Chocolate

2 cups cold milk
4½ oz of dark chocolate (at least 52% cocoa content)
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon vanilla powder
A pinch of red chilli pepper
A pinch of ground cloves

Step 1: Place the milk in a saucepan. Add the spices, sugar and cocoa powder. Adjust the spices to your taste. Heat the milk over medium heat, until it reaches a boiling point. Stir from time to time. Turn off the heat right when the milk starts boiling. Let the milk sit (heat off) for 3 minutes to get the full flavor of the spices.
Step 2: Using a kitchen knife, chop the chocolate. On low heat, add the chocolate to the milk mixture little by little, while stirring, until the chocolate melts into the milk. Make sure to do this on low heat otherwise the chocolate would burn. Serve immediately in small cups for drinking or in large cups for dunking cookies. Bon Appetit!

Persimmon Salad with Moroccan Sweet Vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons Argon oil (optional)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh spring mix
Baby spinach
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 fuyu persimmon (a non-astringent persimmon)
Grated parmesan cheese
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
Making the Vinaigrette: Using a hand-held mixer (or regular blender) mix the olive oil, Argon oil, and white vinegar together for 1 minute until you get a whitish mixture. Add the honey, Dijon mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well with the hand-held mixer. Pour the vinaigrette in a jar, close it, and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes so that all the flavors rest and the aromas are released.  You can store the vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Making the Salad: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients of the salad together: spring mix, baby spinach, persimmon (thinly sliced with a grater), pomegranate seeds, grated parmesan, and roasted almonds. Add some of the vinaigrette to the salad. Mix well using a large spoon and fork. Serve the salad immediately. Enjoy!

Roasted Turkey with Moroccan Chermoula

12-13 pounds fresh Turkey
1-2 preserved lemons (optional)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
A large pinch of saffron
Salt & pepper
1 stick softened butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves (crushed)
¼ cup of finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup of finely chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Infused butter: 1 stick softened butter and 2 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 bouquet of mint
1 bouquet of cilantro
A few branches of rosemary
1 lemon

Making the Butter Spice Mixture with Chermoula Spices
Quarter the preserved lemon(s), remove the pulp (without breaking the skin - keep the skin for decoration) and chop the pulp using a kitchen knife. In a bowl, mix the pulp with the soften butter until well incorporated. Add the spices (ginger, turmeric, saffron, salt and pepper) and continue mixing.  Add the olive oil and garlic to the butter mixture and continue mixing. Add the chopped cilantro, parsley and mint to the butter mixture. Continue mixing. Add the lemon juice and continue mixing.
Preparing the Turkey
Place the turkey in a large baking pan that fits it. Gently, using your fingers, create a pocket between the skin and the meat. Insert your fingers from the neck side and gently create that pocket. Stuff the pocket of space between the skin and meat of the turkey with the butter mixture (it should be all inside the breast area).
Gently massage the turkey skin (from outside) to get the butter mixture distributed.  Rub the leftover butter mixture all over the turkey. Melt butter with bay leaves. You can use a stove or microwave to melt the butter. Let the butter sit for 1 minute after melting it so all the flavors of bay leaves get integrated in the butter. Brush the turkey with the butter bay leaves mixture. Pour the rest in the pan around the turkey.
Season the turkey with salt and pepper. Stuff the turkey (inside the bird) with the bouquet of cilantro, mint, the rosemary branches, the onion, and lemon quarters. Tie the turkey legs with kitchen thread and tuck in the wings underneath the turkey.
Let the turkey rest on your counter for 1 hour. (optional) Take a piece of foil and shape it into a triangle that fits the turkey breast - we will use it later.
Roasting the Turkey
Preheat your oven to 500° F while the turkey is resting. Insert a kitchen thermometer stick in the thickest part of the turkey (the breast area). When the oven is pre-heated, insert the turkey in the oven (legs first), uncovered. Let the turkey roast for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, cover the turkey breast with the foil that we have shaped earlier, reduce the heat of the oven from 500° F to 350° F then continue roasting the turkey for about 2½ hours until the thermometer reads 161° F, which is the temperature that the turkey breast should reach before it is done. So just keep checking on the thermometer - no basting of the turkey is needed.
10 minutes before the turkey is done, remove the foil and let it roast to get a final nice color.
Once done, let the turkey rest on the counter for 30 minutes before carving it so that the juices are all back and the meat is tender.

Pumpkin Pie with a Moroccan Twist

2 ½ cups of flour
2 sticks of butter (cut in cubes) (butter has to be really cold)
6-8 tablespoons of ice cold water (add ice cubes to keep cold)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of plain pumpkin puree (canned)
4 large eggs
1 cup of packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons of orange blossom water
Saffron
⅔ cup of milk
⅔ cup of heavy cream

Preparing the Crust: Mix flour with sugar and salt. Mix in butter (it is crucial the butter is very cold, so if necessary, freeze for 5 minutes). Use fingers to mix butter and flour and get a corn meal texture. If too warm, place in the refrigerator until it cools down, then continue working with the butter. Notice texture of mixture is grainy and has little pieces of butter that are pea-sized.
Add 6-8 Tablespoons of ice cold water to flour mixture. Add water little-by-little until you can create a ball out of the dough. To test if there is enough moisture in the dough, squeeze a piece in your hands; it should form a ball. However, if you squeeze it and it looks dry or falls apart, add more water Squeeze dough into 2 portions, then roll each portion into plastic wrap. Flatten dough into a disc. Let dough cool down in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using. You can preserve the dough for up to 2 days in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer.
Rolling the Crust
Roll dough in a disc to fit pie dish. The dough has to be cold, but if too cold will be hard to roll; let it sit for 5-10 minutes before rolling. Sprinkle flour on working area. If dough tears, wrap it and roll again. Drape dough over rolling pin to place in baking dish. Press down on dough to shape in baking dish. Use cookie cutter to cut extra dough from the edges, then pinch excess dough with your fingers. Brush excess flour. Use a fork to poke holes in crust. Cover crust with foil. Add dry beans to middle of crust to add weight. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Baking the Crust
Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Remove crust from refrigerator and bake immediately for 20 minutes (leave the foil and the dry beans on the crust). After 20 minutes, remove foil paper and beans from crust, then let crust bake another 15-20 minutes at 400°.
Preparing Pumpkin Filling
Prepare filling during the 2nd crust baking. First cook pumpkin with brown sugar, honey and spices for 8-10 minutes in a sauce pan on medium heat. Put saffron in orange blossom water and add. Beat eggs with the milk and heavy cream. When the crust is ready, mix the pumpkin mixture with egg mixture. The pumpkin mixture is hot so add a little at a time to temper the eggs.
Baking the Pumpkin Pie
Pour the warm pumpkin filling into crust. (You are using a warm filling to keep crust from becoming soggy.) Bake for 50 minutes on 400°. Bake until filling becomes firm. Pie is ready when you shake and it’s not wobbly. Let it cool on rack for 1 hour before serving. To save time, prepare crust night before and bake with beans and wrap in plastic wrap, then just heat up for 5 minutes. The pour in filling and bake pie. Serve at room temperature or warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


See other recipes:
Summer Salads by Amy Riolo
The Perfect Loaf by Amy Riolo
Ramadan Recipes by Yvonne Maffei