I decided to look though the old Gourmet magazines I had been saving–I knew there were some things in there that looked interesting but which I never got around to as it was during the craziness of E just being born, and really before I started cooking much again which was only a few months ago. A perfect example was the February 2008 issue–it included an Algerian menu called The Spice is Right–using a lot of winter ingredients such as turnips and fennel, so I thought it would be perfect. I dropped a few things from the menu, just because it was a big enough undertaking to only do some of the items–specifically the shrimp and beignets, though they would be nice to try another time. I almost left off the Algerian flatbread after reading through the recipe–when I saw I would have to roll out 12 flatbreads (twice) I nearly gave up but I’m so glad I didn’t. By twice I mean first you roll it into a 9 inch round and brush it with spiced oil, then you roll it up into a spiral and roll it out again. This swirls the spiced oil into the finished bread round. Then you cook them on a hot griddle. They are absolutely delicious piping hot and I would certainly make them again, if it fit in the menu.
Here’s some pictures of the process:
The tagine recipe was great as well–very lightly fragrant, and not too fruity–just a hint, which was perfect. My husband liked “all the fat in the sauce”–and the leftover sauce did solidify into a jelly, so there’s no exaggeration there. Rather than saving the chicken backs and wings for stock, you cook them in the tagine with the rest of the meat and discard before serving. I’m not sure if this upped the fat, but I bet it contributed to the great flavor.
The other great discovery from this meal was the turnips. I’m probably not the only one who finds it hard to get excited about this vegetable. I think without the poppy seed topping this wouldn’t have been quite so delicious, I think they saved it from utter boringness. Plus this was really easy. I used a special variety of turnip they were selling at Whole Foods which was a Cape Cod or local variety–very large and green topped–I forget the name. (Interesting that I couldn’t even find turnips at the other grocery store–funny that these winter “staple” vegetables are “high end” these days).
The dessert was interesting–I didn’t have high hopes for tangerines in syrup but it was a fun way to make something special out of a fruit you usually casually eat as a snack. I also made the fennel carrot slaw, which was fine, but let’s just say that’s the only leftover at this point.