Harcha – Moroccan Pan-Fried Semolina Bread

Standard

harcha2 18/03/2018

Harcha is one of the most delicious Moroccan snacks that I came across thanks to my beautiful Moroccan friend, Sarah, who never turns up to a get-together empty handed. So when she arrived for a coffee with a giant harcha fresh from the pan, we wasted no time devouring it with multiple toppings and/or fillings. Harcha is a semolina bread that you can make in any size and fill with savoury fillings such as cheese or sweet such as honey.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) semolina
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) butter
  • 1/2 cup (100 ml) milk (or as needed)

Directions:

Preparing the Dough:

  1. Place the semolina in a bowl, add the sugar, baking powder and the salt. Mix well. You need semolina for this recipe so do not try to substitute it.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave or a saucepan then add the butter to the semolina and mix with a spoon. When it gets hard with the spoon, mix with your hands, Moroccan style!
  3. Add the milk and mix until you get a smooth dough. Then let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Shaping the Harcha:

  1. Turn on the heat to medium and heat up a heavy cast iron pan!
  2. Back to the dough… you will notice that it is drier as the semolina has absorbed the milk. If it’s too dry, add a little more milk.
  3. To get perfect shapes, use a cookie cutter to make medium sized Harcha. You can make a large one, or mini-ones – whatever you like. The discs should be ¼” thick or a bit thicker. When shaping the disks use parchment paper, so it’s easy to transfer them to the pan.

Cooking the Harcha:

  1. Reduce the heat to low – very important otherwise the harcha will burn from outside and not cook from inside – transfer the harcha to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes on each side. You will see that the surface gets a beautiful golden brown colour and that the discs start to dry. If you try to push on them, they will feel dry. Flip and cook the other side.
  2. Let the harcha cool a bit and cut it in half with a sharp knife. If the harcha is still too hot and the knife not sharp, it will crumble.
  3. Fill with cheese, jam, honey, or anything you like!
Advertisements

Pancakes

Standard

screenshot_2016-09-13-09-09-51-11 13/09/2016

Super easy, versatile and flippin’ tasty (pun intended)!

Serves 2-4 (depending on appetite and will power)

Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 2eggs
  • 300ml semi-skimmed milk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • pinch salt

Method:

  1. Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack the egg into the middle then pour in about 50ml milk. Start whisking from the centre, gradually drawing the flour into the egg and milk. Once all the flour is incorporated, beat until you have a smooth, thick paste. Add a little more milk if it is too stiff to beat.
  2. Add a good splash of milk and whisk to loosen the thick batter. While still whisking, pour in a steady stream of the remaining milk. Continue pouring and whisking until you have a batter that is the consistency of slightly thick single cream. Traditionally, people would say to now leave the batter for 30 mins, to allow the starch in the flour to swell, but there’s no need.
  3. Heat the pan over a moderate heat then wipe it with oiled kitchen paper. Ladle some batter into the pan, tilting the pan to move the mixture around for a thin and even layer then leave to cook, undisturbed, for about 60 seconds. If the pan is the right temperature, the pancake should turn golden underneath after about 60 seconds and will be ready to turn.
  4. Hold the pan handle, ease a fish slice under the pancake then quickly lift and flip it over. Make sure the pancake is lying flat against base of the pan with no folds and cook for another 30-60 seconds before turning out onto a warm plate. Continue with the rest of the batter, serving them as you cook or stack onto a plate. You can freeze the pancakes for 1 month, wrapped in cling film or make them up to a day ahead.
  5. Sprinkle, squeeze and pour your favourite toppings and fillings over and tuck in.

 

To oven reheat, stack the pancakes on a heatproof plate; cover with foil. Warm at 180C/fan 160C for 10-15 mins from cold or 5-10 mins from room temperature. To microwave, stack, cover with cling film, pierce the film. Reheat on High for 1 min.

Flavour ideas:

Classic citrus and sugar: sprinkle each cooked pancake with sugar, roll up, sprinkle a little more sugar and squeeze over fresh lemon or orange juice.

Nutella and banana: Roll pancakes, spread with Nutella and top with chopped banana and chopped, toasted hazelnuts.

Spinach and ricotta: Wilt spinach, strain well, stir through ricotta and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stuff and roll pancakes.

Creamy mushroom: Fry chopped mushrooms and stir through some garlic roule. Add some wilted spinach or kale if desired. Stuff and roll pancakes.

Onion, cheese & bacon: Fry a chopped onion, then add chopped streaky bacon and cook until golden. Tip onto pancakes, grate over cheddar, fold up and eat hot.

Tropical fruit & ginger: Fresh tropical fruits, stem ginger syrup and Greek yogurt.

Conchas – Mexican Sweet Bread

Standard

IMG_20150923_160440[1] 23/09/2015

Conchas are Mexican sweet breads that can vary in flavour but the traditional version is lightly spiced with cinnamon. I first tried these little buns on my travels in El Paso, TX. We were literally meters from the Mexican border but may as well have been in the heart of the country as the flavours and treats on offer in the little Mexican bakeries there just seemed so homely and authentic. Here is my version of rich, buttery, sweet breads for you to enjoy.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

  1. In a large bowl stir together yeast and warm water, let stand for ten minutes. Stir in evaporated milk, sugar, melted butter, egg, and salt. Stir in 2 cups flour. Gradually stir in remaining 2 cups flour and the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to make the dough.
  2. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead 3-5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl, turn the dough to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 60-75 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, for the topping, in medium bowl, beat softened butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until well mixed. Stir in 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and vanilla.
  4. Punch down the dough then cover and let stand ten minutes. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place 3 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Press balls down slightly. Divide topping into 12 balls, pat each ball flat. Place one round of topping onto each dough ball.
  5. Use a sharp knife to cut grooves in the topping to resemble a scallop shell. Cover rolls and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Bake rolls 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on wire racks.

IMG_20150923_160530[1] IMG_20150923_160605[1]

This bread is awesome eaten just warm from the oven. I recommend warming any rolls that you don’t eat immediately in an oven for about 5 minutes to refresh.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Standard

IMG_20150712_210250[1] 15/07/2015

I recently visited my family in Nottingham. Nottingham is home of the Bramley apple so it seemed a great idea to finish off a big Sunday lunch with a local produce, great English pud’ for everyone to dig into!

Tart, sharp softened fruit is topped with crunchy, buttery, sweet crumble mix. Hot out of the oven with a scoop of melting ice cream… Yum!

You could use whatever fruit you have and like for a crumble filling; peaches, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, plums etc. Just cut and cook them down like you do the apples.

The crumble recipe provided is for a classic and basic topping too but again, experiment to your heart’s content. Oats are great, spices and mixed nuts add variation too.

Fruit Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large Bramley apples
  • 500g Blackberries
  • 2 Tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Method:

  1. Peel and core the apples then slice and add to a pan with a splash of water. Place over a medium heat and gently cook the apple until it begins to soften and break down.
  2. Add the blackberries and continue cooking until they release their wonderful juices and turn the mixture a wonderful deep purple colour.
  3. Add the sugar and taste for sweetness. Apples and berries can vary in tartness so adjust accordingly. Add the mixed spice and remove from the heat.
  4. Spoon the mix into an ovenproof dish.

Basic Crumble Topping

Ingredients:

  • 8oz plain flour (or whole wheat)
  • 5oz soft brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice (optional)
  • 3oz butter at room temperature
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle in the baking powder, salt and mixed spice then add the butter and rub it into the flour lightly using your fingertips. Then when it looks all crumbly, add the sugar and combine well.
  3. Now sprinkle the crumble mix all over your fruit in the pie dish. Place the crumble on a medium-high shelf in the oven and bake it for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Variations:

  1. Instead of flour use 4oz whole wheat flour and 4oz porridge oats
  2. For a nutty topping, try 6oz whole wheat flour, 3oz chopped nuts and cut the sugar to 3oz.

IMG_20150712_210414[1] IMG_20150712_210214[1]

Serve with ice cream, custard or double cream. So good.