The best Christmas present I got this year was a tagine. Isn't it PURTY??
I was hesitant about putting it on my wish list, they are a bit pricey, and I was worried that I wouldn't like it or use it or understand it or whatever, but OMG, I have to tell you, it's amazing!!
The first thing I made in it was lamb with dates, apricots, and almonds and ooooohhhh buddy was that amazingly delicious. One of the things I like so much about Morrocan cooking is the way they use spices that we associate with desserts in savory cooking. The way the lamb tastes like cinnamon and cardomom with a hint of sweetness from the dates, but still with that savory undertone...mmmmmm.
One thing that the author of the cookbooks go on and on about is preserved lemons and I can't find them anywhere, so I decided to give it a whirl. I meant to photograph the process, but it went so fast I sort of forgot. Basically, you sterilize a jar, you wash the lemons, make sure everything is dry, then you cut them, stuff them with salt, jam them in a jar, pour lemon juice over them, and let them sit.
I have no idea what to expect, but the description of the way they taste, how they can transform a dish, and how integral they are to Morrocan cooking, I just HAD to try it. I'll let you know if it works in a month or so...
And making them got me thinking about how some of the most delicious, integral parts of cuisine are the way they are because of the lack of fresh produce and meat year round. Lemons in high season? Preserve them so we can have them year round! Time for slaughter? What to do with all that pork...proscuitto, bacon, ham, pancetta, cured sausages...all things smokey and delicious. Cured olives. Marinated peppers. Hard cheeses. Polenta (dried ground corn). Tamales (same). Anything made of dried ground anything - mmmmmmm, hearty breads made from nut flours. Oatmeal!
What of your favorite foods are the way they are because they had to be kept through the off-season?