Charmoulla Du Maroc

Charmoulla Du Maroc is a hot sauce that originated in Morocco. It is zesty and full of flavor, and it is often used as a marinade or as a component in a prepared dish.

Thick and spicy, Charmoulla Du Maroc can add a flavorful zing to a number of dishes including rice, couscous, beans, meats, or certain vegetables.

Charmoulla Du Maroc is made with fresh peppers, onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, and olive oil — all ingredients found in Morocco.  When these ingredients are blended together, the robust sauce can even be used as an ingredient in many other dishes. One thing is certain, Charmoulla Du Maroc adds fantastic flavor to a variety of dishes — if you make this, you will realize how easily you can transform an omelet, a casserole, cooked grains, soup, fish, or most anything roasted.

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Charmoulla Du Maroc (Moroccan Hot Sauce)

The degree of heat in your sauce will depend upon the type of hot peppers you use.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted sweet pepper, chopped with skin and seeds removed (this will be 1 medium size red pepper before roasting)
  • 2-3 hot peppers, diced with seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup olive oil

1. Place onion, garlic, chiles, paprika, cumin, and lemon juice in blender or food processor.

2. Puree, then add olive oil while pureeing.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe makes about a cup of Charmoulla Du Maroc. A variety of hot chili peppers can be used in this recipe. The Charmoulla I just made used jalapeno peppers, so it is mild. If I wanted to rev it up, I might add some of my dried chili pepper bits. If I wanted to keep the sauce to myself, I would add some dried Habanero…. ;-)

Most Moroccan-based recipes call for 2-3 teaspoons  so a small amount of Moroccan Hot Sauce goes a long way. Once you try it, the thick sauce won’t last long, but be sure to refrigerate the prepared sauce with a lidded jar.

Fresh garden peppers are still available, so I took advantage of a few of our red beauties and roasted one this morning. I have made Charmoulla Du Maroc without roasted red pepper but some of the sweet flavor and beautiful color will be lost without using one.

Some of this Carmoulla Du Maroc was spread on a quesadilla I made for my lunch today. Those spices made the quesadilla!

We’re going to have bean soup and cornbread for our evening meal.  A dollop of this Charmoulla Du Maroc in each bowl of soup will add such a great spicy flavor.

CharmoullaDuMaroc

I print labels on some foods I make, especially those for gift giving. This label comes from vintage-era copyright-free art, so feel free to copy it if you would like.

Greenhouse Herbs

After my greenhouse was built, I began growing herbs in and around orchids I was raising in the greenhouse.  Fresh herbs, unless they were bought fresh from a store, are not usually available to cooks during the Winter season. So for me, growing herbs in my greenhouse provides a savory and aromatic component for some of our dishes.

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In regions where there is significant seasonal change, Winter has an effect on what we eat and how we eat. Our foods tend to be hearty. And we tend to eat more. :-)

During Winter, some of us switch from fresh produce and garden veggies to canned goods, too, using jars of preserved home-grown garden vegetables. During Winter some of us also replace freshly snipped green herbs to dried herbs like oregano, and marjoram and thyme.

SpicesIn the Winter, cooks also use more spices, barks, and roots in the meals. Meals prepared with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger become more of the standard fare during the cold months.

With greenhouse herbs, our Winter season will include fresh green-leaf herbs for some of our cooked foods.

This year, my greenhouse will be operating in a cooler temperature range, but most of the herbs I grow should grow accustomed to the temperature there.

The herbs I’m taking into the greenhouse this Winter include oregano, thyme, chives, parsley, basil, and pineapple sage. I’m starting to move some herbs into the greenhouse now.

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Even before we built the greenhouse, potting up garden herbs during Autumn has been a routine of mine.  Some tender herbs were overwintered. Other herbs like Oregano were grown indoors from divisions taken off of perennial herb plants.  Overwintering herbs allows the herbs to continue growing and producing through the year, even during the Winter. Fresh herbs make a meal more savory.

Since I enjoy both cooking and gardening, the ability to snip fresh herbs for our prepared meals was a real treat during the cold weather. Knowing that I can make a fresh pesto from my basil plants in Winter takes some of the chill out of the weather. Or so it seems.

Most of the herbs heading to the greenhouse are either container plants or they have been planted in a garden area. Those in pots like the 4-year old Lemon Thyme (see below) can easily be transferred into the greenhouse. The herbs growing in a garden must be transplanted or propagated from stem cuttings.

LemonThyme

I dug a few small clumps of chives already and will be bringing more chives into the greenhouse during the next weeks. We have a large planting so a few clumps taken for the greenhouse will not be missed. Once they’re divided and in the greenhouse, they’ll get rejuvinated and send up more and more tender shoots.

Chives

Large-leaf Italian basil seed has been collected already and new basil plants will be started from those seeds. Add a few transplanted Basil plants and I will hopefully have Basil year round with the help of the greenhouse.

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Pineapple sage bushes will be transplanted into large pots during October, but for now, I will also start some tip cuttings of this herb. The aromatic leaves really smell like pineapples. And pineapple sage is  an herb that is used in cooking, too. Not only is this herb a bush that works well in a perennial garden bed, but the lovely red flowers are hummingbird and butterfly attractors.

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The Pineapple Sage in the greenhouse will be an experiment this year. I’m unsure about the success I will have with this sage because sages like hot and somewhat dry conditions. If nothing else, the plants will at least overwinter there for next year. Here in my region, Pineapple Sage does not overwinter in the garden….it’s too cold.

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So while I putter in the greenhouse during the Winter months, I can rub or bruise a leaf or two from an herb and enjoy its scent for a moment. Then before I return to the house, I might snip off a sprig of something to cook with.

There is something special about a kitchen’s aroma during Winter. And I can already smell a loaf of fresh Herb Bread from the oven…

Roasting Red Peppers

This week’s harvest of sweet peppers gave us more than we could eat, so about 20 of them were held back to preserve.

I decided to roast those 20, then freeze them to use during the winter.  Roasted red peppers are much sweeter than raw peppers and they are a great addition to prepared foods. I use them in a variety of dishes, in pilafs and other grain dishes, in salads, as garnishes, or spreads.

Roasting red peppers is very easy to do at home. Red peppers can be roasted in the broiler, on the grill, or even over a gas-flame stove element. I chose to broiler-roast mine.

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Instructions

To roast red peppers, you need a knife and some type of baking dish with a cover (or a piece of aluminum foil).

Turn on your broiler to preheat the element.

Rinse the red peppers and place them on a cookie sheet or metal cooling rack so that you can do  several peppers at a time.

Place the red peppers directly on the oven rack below the broiler flame. The flame will cause the red pepper skins to bubble and turn black. Don’t be alarmed — this blackened skin is what is necessary.

Once the red pepper skins blister and blacken, turn each pepper to broiler-roast another side. Repeat this process until every side of each red pepper has been roasted.

Remove the tray of broiler-roasted red peppers and place them into a bowl or baking dish; cover them.

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Repeat the broiler-roasting process for all red peppers you want to roast. I roast peppers in several batches.

Meanwhile, the red peppers in the covered baking dish will continue to cook, loosening their blackened skins as they cook. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for each red pepper to continue cooking before removing from the baking dish.

Once the red peppers have cooled, begin processing them. With the knife, remove stems from red peppers. Then slice each red pepper in half and remove the seeds.

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With the knife, gently scrape the blackened skin off of each cut half. Once the blackened skin has been removed, slice the red peppers into strips or chunks. Mine were quartered.

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The roasted red peppers are now ready to be laid on waxed paper and frozen. The 20 peppers I prepared yielded a bit over 2 pounds of quartered sections. Very pretty peppers, aren’t they?

Canning. Roasted red peppers can be processed in half-pints or pints with a pressure canner. Peppers are low-acid vegetables and cannot be safely processed with a water-bath canning procedure. To preserve jars of roasted red peppers, follow the instructions for your pressure canner.

Freezing. Gently pack the prepared red pepper strips into freezer-proof containers. To separate easily when thawing for use, place pieces of waxed paper between peppers. Frozen red peppers will keep for 9 months or so.

For more on peppers and pepper recipes, you might like the article, “Peppers: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy” .

A Cool September Morn

Sleeping under a quilt at night keeps the chill away, but once I opened the back door to let out the dogs, I flipped on the porch light and saw the temperature was 52-degrees.

A cool September morn like this reminded me that it was time to bring out a few extra quilts. Most of my quilts are stored away but I had some that I pulled out from a trunk.

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During cold weather, I keep a few quilts laying around for snuggling. We keep our home fairly cool during the winter months and use layered clothing and quilts to warm us up if necessary. Visitors used to joke about how cold our home was. Then energy prices soared. No one’s laughing now… they’ve all turned down their thermostats, too.

With our unseasonably cool growing season, our squash season has been squashed. We were awaiting the bulk of our harvest as this year, I planted later than normal to avoid the vine borer. Don’t know why I bothered — our harvest was destroyed anyway. Last weekend, the deer got to the side garden where I grew almost all of the squash plants. They not only ate all of the squash, they ate every leaf AND uprooted all of the squash plants and vines. We’ve never seen so much destruction. No longer deer, they’re being referred to as venison. We have plans to cull a herd that has become too destructive in the past years.

The Loofah plants are growing more baby Loofahs and strong tendrils — they were planted next to the back porch stair rails for support. I’ve been closely watching them, hoping I can harvest just one for a few scrubbers this winter. I may be in luck — one Loofah is growing well, about an inch a day. I grey-water this plant and it’s about 10-inches long now. I am thinking about artificially heating the grow area with an insulating wrap-around for the next couple of weeks. The lengths some of us go to in the garden….

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Yesterday morning I worked in the vegetable garden. I cleared out 2 rows of green beans to make room for some late fall greens. Once the beans and debris was cleared, I added compost, then raked it in before I did the soil turning. This area, roughly 3′ x 27′, will be hooped with the 2 rows of kale and covered with insulated covering for our late fall harvests. The greens will include lettuces, beet and turnip greens, spinach, and mizuna.

It’s time to grab an overshirt and head outside again, seed packets in hand.

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Summer’s Last Gazpacho

If you’re a vegetable gardener, I know that you enjoy making meals with your vegetable harvest. Have you ever made a fresh summer soup using your homegrown vegetables? How about a chilled soup made with your freshly picked vegetables? Are you interested?

First, gather the vegetables from the garden. It’s late in the growing season, so maybe you will need to reach into your vegetable bin for your onion or cucumbers. You’ll need tomatoes, cucumbers, a red pepper, and an onion. If you are growing parsley or cilantro, snip a few sprigs of that, too.

GazpachoIngredients

Now that you’ve gathered your vegetables, follow my easy recipe:

Gazpacho Soup

I use fresh, organic Roma (paste) tomatoes in my soup. Sometimes I add a slicing tomato, but it depends what we have growing when it’s soup-making time.

  • 2-1/2 pounds tomatoes (about 8 medium), chopped
  • 2 medium cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, optional

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl then spoon small batches into food processor to blend. When smooth, pour into another mixing bowl and repeat until all chopped vegetables have been pureed.

Stir well to combine all pureed ingredients well. Chill for several hours before serving. If you’d like, you can place a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt atop the soup before serving.

Note: If you would prefer a very smooth Gazpacho Soup, use a blender for a finer soup. Personally I love the very tiny vege-bits in my soup so I use my food processor with the chopping blade.

GazpachoSoup

Summer’s almost over and this wonderful tomato-vegetable soup will be summer’s last Gazpacho. This soup is a flavorful reminder of our garden’s bounty.