Wednesday, July 26, 2017

An Afternoon at La Pause, Marrakech






One of the most memorable parts of our trip through Morocco was the afternoon we spent at La Pause, a glamping resort in the Agafay desert outside of Marrakech. I first came across La Pause during my maniacal vaca research as a place to ride camels and check out the landscape outside Morocco's bustling cities. Only after we made the quick 20 minute drive did I realize just how great this little getaway would be.

Accomodations at La Pause consist of a series of cloth tents furnished with comfy beds and sitting areas. There is no electricity at the resort, so nighttime is spent around communal fire rings, or by lantern light. Each meal is made by a fantastic chef with fresh ingredients grown on the property. We didn't spend the night, but thoroughly enjoyed a day trip of camel riding and lunch.

We were greeted with mint tea and a quick tour of the property before mounting our pair of camels. Adam swears mine was better behaved, but I found the ride to be relaxing and easy (after a brief scary bit while the camel stands up). The desert scenery is stunning, with nothing dotting the landscape for miles. The ride is plenty long, and the temperature was pleasant in May. Afterward, we were treated to a multiple course meal of fresh salads, tagine, and dessert that was one of our favorite of the entire trip. It was a great way to spend a few hours on our way from Marrakech to our next destination.


A quick aside: I wear this Sam Edelman jumpsuit everywhere. And these pics show I mean everywhere. It's one of my favorite items of clothing because it can be dressed up or down, never wrinkles, and has the most flattering cut... when not seated on a camel. I wish it were still available, but there's two alternatives below.

Jumpsuit - Sam Edelman (similar here and here)
Scarf - Anthropologie (similar here and here)
Bag - Brit & Belle




Sunday, July 16, 2017

Chipotle, Brown Sugar Bacon, and Goat Cheese Guacamole



You guys... it's nearly impossible for me to believe that there was a time that I hated guacamole. In fact, as I've mentioned before, I hated avocados entirely. Don't worry, I've come to my senses and come around to both like a good Texan. I still, however, don't like the guac at a lot of restaurants, and I quickly realized the reason was because they're so terribly lacking salt and citrus. Now when I make my own, I know to not be shy with either.


And then, well, I trash it up nice and good too... previously copying the Austin restaurant Z'Tejas with cotija and pepitas (still my fav), and more recently with this new twist. First, I wanted to add one of my favorite flavors: chipotle. Then, tangy goat cheese and crispy bacon. I knew both the goat cheese and chipotles would pair perfectly with a little bit of sweetness, so I candied the bacon with a dusting of brown sugar. This guac is seriously to die for, and is definitely not under-seasoned.




Chipotle, Brown Sugar Bacon, and Goat Cheese Guacamole


Ingredients 

  • 2 large Haas avocados, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1 - 2 T. minced shallot, to taste
  • 1 - 2 T. chopped cilantro, to taste
  • 1 - 2 T. diced chipotles, from canned chipotles in adobo
  • Dash of fresh lime juice
  • Generous pinch each of sea salt and pepper
  • 3 pieces thick-cut bacon
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2-3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Directions
  1. Rub pieces of raw bacon with brown sugar until thinly coated (may not use full tablespoon). Cook in a skillet over medium heat, then allow to cool and crumble the pieces.
  2. Stir and slightly mash the avocados, tomato, cilantro, chipotles, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Top the guacamole with crumbled bacon, goat cheese, and extra cilantro for garnish, if desired.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sprouting Broccoli and Edamame Salad with Curry and Toasted Coconut (and Brown Butter Scallops)



Yotam Ottolenghi is a vegetable magician. I so wish I were better at eating and enjoying veggies, but given that I grew up on lettuce with cheese, croutons, and Italian dressing as salad... I've come a long way.  If you're lucky enough to ever eat in one of Ottolenghi's restaurants, you'll find yourself eating plates of veggies and absolutely loving it. Nowhere else would I eat a sampling of salads without even looking at the entrees.

When I'm cooking from someone else's recipe, I almost always change some things. With his recipes, I only change based on necessity, not preference. I couldn't find curry leaves in Whole Foods or Central Market, so I had to improvise there. Also, I scaled the broccoli and green beans down a bit to fit dinner for two, and added some cress sprouts I've been growing in a bowl on my kitchen counter. But, I kept everything else the same, and this salad was fire. We topped it with some seared brown butter scallops for a super healthy, but flavorful dinner.


Sprouting Broccoli and Edamame Salad with Curry and Toasted Coconut
Adapted from Plenty More, by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 2 Entrees with some leftovers, or 4 side dishes

Ingredients
  • 8.5 oz broccolini, preferably young and sprouting, stems sliced thinner or removed
  • 5 oz haricots verts, trimmed
  • 1 1/3 cups shelled frozen edamame, thawed
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2.5 t. black mustard seeds
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 1/2 t. Za'atar
  • 3 whole dried red chiles
  • Shaved rind of 1 lime, plus 1.5 T. juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut  
  • Handful of sprouts (I used cress), optional
  • Salt and pepper
If serving with scallops
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. fresh scallops 
  • 4 T. butter

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the haricots verts and blanch for 1 minute. Add the broccolini and blanch 3 minutes more. Transfer the veggies to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Pat dry and set aside in a large serving bowl.
  2. Add the edamame and 1/2 t. of salt to the broccoli and beans.
  3. In a dry sauté pan over medium heat, toast the coconut until edges are golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe the pan out and use the same pan for the next step. 
  4. Heat 4 T. of olive oil in the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and 1/4 t. salt, cook for 4 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the mustard seed and cook until the seeds begin to pop.
  5. Add the curry powder, Za'atar, chiles, and lime rind. Saute for 2 minutes before pouring everything over the vegetables. Stir and set aside.
  6. When ready to serve, add the lime juice, cilantro, toasted coconut, and sprouts. Toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
For the scallops
  1. Pat the scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 T. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook without turning until golden brown on first side, about 90 seconds. Turn the scallops and add the butter to the pan. Cook until butter starts turning brown (will smell nutty) and the scallops are just cooked, about another 2 minutes.
  3. Serve atop the finished salad.