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Moroccan Recipes

Moroccan Spiced Pastitsio with Lamb and Feta


Image source: Flickr

2tbsp Olive Oil

1¼ cup Red Onion, chopped

large Garlic cloves, chopped

1 lb ground Lamb

28 oz diced Tomatoes in juice

2 tbsp dried Mint

tbsp Ras-el-hanout

1 tbsp Tomato Paste

3 tsp ground Cumin, divided

1 tsp ground Cinnamon

3 cup whole Milk, divided

1 stick unsalted Butter, divided

tbsp all purpose Flour

large eggs, separated

oz Feta Cheese, crumbled

1 lb Penne rigate

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided



An exotic and complex Morrocan spice blend that, depending on the person preparing it, can contain up to 50 ingredients. Ras el hanou means "head of the shop," purportedly because shop owners create their own unique blend, which can include ginger, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, dried flowers (such as lavender and rose), nigella, mace, galangal and turmeric. Traditionally, this spice blend also includes aphrodisiacs like the Spanish fly beetle.

Nigella: Wild fennel

Galangal: plant (Alpinia officinarum) of eastern Asia, having pungent, aromatic roots used medicinally and as seasoning.

Preheat oven to 400°F.


Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add lamb; cook until brown, breaking into small pieces, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juice, mint, ras-el-hanout, tomato paste, 2½ teaspoons cumin, and cinnamon. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until lamb mixture is thick, stirring often, 15 to 18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


Meanwhile, bring 2 cups milk to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; whisk until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until roux is pale golden, whisking often, 3 to 4 minutes.

Gradually add warm milk to roux, whisking until sauce is smooth.


Whisk 1 cup milk and 3 egg yolks in medium bowl; whisk into sauce.


Whisk in feta and ½ teaspoon cumin. Bring sauce to boil, whisking often.


Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until slightly thickened, mashing with potato masher to break up cheese, about 5 minutes.


Season sauce with salt and pepper.


PREPARE AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.


TO USE: Warm over low heat, whisking often, before using.


Butter deep 14-cup baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta; return to same pot. Mix 2 tablespoons butter into pasta. Add egg whites and ¼ cup Parmesan; stir to blend.


Spread 4 cups pasta in dish. Spread lamb mixture over. Top with remaining pasta. Spoon sauce over; sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan. Place dish on rimmed baking sheet. Bake Pastitsio until heated throughout, about 40 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

M'hanncha (Snake Cake)


In Morocco every meal is a special occasion, and almond-paste sweets are always part of the menu. M'hanncha (snake) is made from rolled phyllo pastry coiled to look like a serpent. The orange-flower water and cinnamon flavorings are very North African, revealing the Persian influences in the region.


Orange-Almond Paste:

cup Almonds

¾ cup Confectioners' sugar

½ tsp ground Cinnamon

¼ tsp ground Cardamom

¾ cup unsalted Butter, melted

2  Egg yolks, beaten

1 tbsp Orange-flower water

1 tbsp Orange juice

1 tbsp grated Orange zest

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Image source: Flickr


12  12" x 17" sheets Phyllo dough

¾    cup unsalted Butter, melted

2     Egg yolks, beaten

1     tbsp Water

½    tsp Cinnamon


¼ cup Confectioners' sugar

tsp  ground Cinnamon

¼ cup sliced Almonds


To Make the Orange-Almond Paste:

Combine the almonds, confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom in a food processor or blender and pulse to grind into a coarse meal. Add the butter and egg yolks and pulse until blended. Scrape the paste into a bowl, and stir in the orange-flower water, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla.

Divide the paste into 12 balls, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Set the balls on a work surface dusted with confectioners' sugar. Roll each one into a 3½" long log. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a large baking sheet. Dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar. Place a sheet of phyllo pastry on the sugared work surface, and fold it in thirds to form a 4" x 17" rectangle. Brush the sheet with melted butter. Add another folded phyllo sheet, brush with butter, and repeat, until you have four buttered sheets.


Set four orange-almond paste logs in a row down one long end of the phyllo, and roll the pastry up over them into a cylinder. Fold over the ends and brush on some melted butter to seal the seams. Shape the cylinder into a small, tight coil and place on the baking sheet, seam side down.


Repeat to prepare two more phyllo rolls. Add each to the end of the previous coil on the baking sheet, forming a large coil.


Combine the egg yolks, water, and cinnamon. Brush the mixture over the top of the cake.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove the cake from the oven, and let cool on the baking sheet.


Stir together the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle on the cake, and top with sliced almonds.

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