Tag Archive | spice

Advent Calendar Day 11: Early Christmas Presents!

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I’m a lucky girl! This week I’ve received three lovely gifts in the post.

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If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you will have seen that Elaine from Foodbod sent me some fabulous spice blends from the UK. Creole, Peri Peri, Ras el hanout and Moroccan. I can’t wait to use them!

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Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial sent me some sourdough starter all the way from Australia. Her seven year old starter Priscilla has been sent all over the world. I’m naming my pack Saoirse (sear-sha) an Irish name for freedom and liberty.

Celia has loads of sourdough recipes on her blog, but I’ll be starting with her
basic sourdough tutorial, I’ll keep you posted!

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I’ve never had mail from Australia, aren’t the stamps beautiful?

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My final present this week was from Kingfisher Tea. Since 2005, this Irish family business has been “providing refreshing flavours of whole leaf teas and the relaxing fragrances of fruits, spices, flowers and herbs”. Based in County Wexford, the company has been awarded “Best in Ireland” designation from Bridgestone Guides and was awarded gold stars from the Guild of Fine Foods in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Five delicious flavours arrived: Rosey Lee Fruit Tea, Moroccan Mint Tea, Irish Breakfast, Darjeeling Earl Grey Tea and Japan Sencha Green Tea.

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Everyone that reads my blog knows how much I love my tea and I’m extremely excited to be trying these out. All of the teas have excellent labels on the back, which list their ingredents AND more importantly how best to brew a cup!

Thank you so much to @foodbodfood,  @CeliaFigJam and @Kingfisherteas! Please check out the links I’ve posted above or their Twitter accounts and say hi….

Melissa xx

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Tasty Tagine

I know that I’ve been a bit quiet of late; I’ve been preparing and writing my posts for my Advent Calendar in the 24 day run up to Christmas! I started this ‘tradition’ last year and really enjoyed it. So watch out, from Monday 1st December, I will post something Christmassy every single day!

Anyway, back to today… It’s turned really chilly in Ireland over the last few days, so what better way to warm up, then with a tasty tagine? Back in June, Dr Doolittle and I visited Marrakech. I still remember the sticky sweet, spicy taste of one particular tagine which had lamb, onion and dates in. It was delicious!

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This recipe is based on Nigella’s Lamb and Date Tagine from her book Nigella Christmas. We used diced beef instead of lamb and we used a spice mix brought back from our holiday instead of making Nigella’s. The ‘ras el hanout’ has a wonderful blend of cumin, chilli, paprika, cinnamon, tumeric and other  wonderful spices.

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Ingredients :
3-4  tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp Ras El Hanout
500g diced beef
150g soft dried pitted dates or pitted Medjool dates
150ml pure pomegranate juice from a bottle
150ml water
1 sweet potato
1 red and 1 green pepper
2 teaspoons Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt, or to taste

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Heat the olive oil in the cooking pot of choice (if you don’t have a tagine, use a shallow casserole dish with a lid) add in the onions , letting them cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.

Add the ras el hanout and turn well in the onions. Turn up the heat and add the meat, turning it patiently in the pan so that it sears equally; this is why a wide, shallow pan is better than a narrow, deep one.

Pop in the dates, pour in the pomegranate juice and water, then add the salt and bring to a bubble. Finally, add in the chopped up sweet potato and sliced peppers. Put the lid on, turn down the heat to an absolute minimum on the oven/range; it’s important that this cooks ultra-gently for two hours.

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Nigella’s relish was gorgeous! The sweet pomegranate cut through the sharp raw onion and added a freshness to the spicy beef.

Red Onion and Pomegranate Relish:
1 red onion
60ml fresh lime juice
juice and seeds of 1 large pomegranate (or 60ml pure pomegranate juice from a bottle and 40g pomegranate seeds from a tub or packet)
salt, to taste

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Peel and cut the onion in half, then slice into very thin half moons. Put the onions into a bowl with the lime juice and pomegranate juice and let them steep for half an hour.

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Drain the steeped onion into a bowl, discarding the too-oniony juice, add the pomegranate seeds and season with salt. Sprinkle over the tagine and put the rest in a bowl. Serve the tagine with crusty bread or cous cous. And by the way, it tasted even better the following day!

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Melissa xx