Sunday, June 28, 2015

Harissa - DIY Pantry

I don't know why or how I decided to make a Moroccan Feast one fateful night in January 2009, but it was love at first bite ever since.

At that point in time, Harissa was totally new to me and that version was made with hot pepper flakes. While it was perfect for that meal, this updated version blows my mind. It's made with whole dried peppers that are soaked and deseeded and then pureed with the remaining ingredients. The result is less fire and more flavor and we can't get enough of it!

And if you're at all interested in Moroccan, buy Mourad New Moroccan; not only is he the real deal, but he knows how to write about food preparation and in beautiful, image filled detail. Make your own couscous! Really! What you get in the store is like the couscous version of freeze-dried rice they use in rice-a-roni! Who knew! And as he writes, even if you never roll your own couscous, just reading about the process is fascinating!

A fun cooking tip from me to you:

In case you did not know, small mouth mason jars will fit your blender blade. In fact blenders used to be sold with a half pint mason jar as part of the standard equipment. My blender carafe broke years ago and I only use mason jars on my blender. It's great for making sauces like harissa. Try it, you'll love it!

Harissa (from Mourad New Moroccan)
(makes 1 1/2 cups)

4 chipotle peppers
3 dried New Mexico chiles
4 dried ancho peppers
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
5 grinds fresh pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, grated fine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Boil water and pour over dried chiles in ceramic bowl enough to cover them; place a water filled jar with a tightly fitting lid on top of chiles to ensure they stay submerged. Soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain but reserve at least 1/2 cup of liquid. Carefully open peppers and remove seeds, stems and membranes and discard. Place peppers in small mason jar or your blender carafe and add remaining ingredients. Pulse to combine, alternating adding 1 tablespoon of soaking liquid and additional tablespoons of olive oil at a time to get a smooth paste. Taste for salt and store in an air tight jar in the refrigerator with a film of olive oil on top to protect the harissa.


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