Sablé de Chocolat (Algerian Chocolate Cookies)

Sables de Chocolat I previously made the original French Sablé which was a vanilla based cookie with jelly and powdered sugar but this cookie is for all the chocolate lovers. This cookie is light and buttery just like a shortbread yet rich in velvety chocolate. If Fererro Rocher was a cookie, this would be it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon nutella spread
  • 1 tablespoon water

To Decorate:

  • nutella spread
  • hazel nuts chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl sift cocoa into flour add baking soda and mix.
  2. Add in sugar and vanilla.
  3. Fold in butter and mix quickly. The mixture will appear crumbly. Work the dough as little as possible. If the dough is not wet enough add tablespoon of water, if too sticky add a bit of flour.
  4. Let sit in fridge for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F
  6. Roll dough out onto a floured surface, making sure to flour the rolling pin as well, to 1 cm flat.
  7. Cut out cookies and place onto parchment paper on a cookie pan.
  8. Sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from pan onto cooling rack and decorate accordingly.

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Bourek Laadjine (Algerian Hand Pies)

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Bourek Laadjine is a variety of Algerian savory pastries that is primarily made of bread rather than the traditional thin sheets of wrappers, hence the name that translates into bourek with dough. It can be served as an appetizer or with chorba. It is perfect during the month of Ramadan since it can be prepared and frozen in advance or right before serving. They are very similar to the South American empanadas and the filling can vary from meat, eggs or even just cheese.Also the dough can be fried or baked, the recipe can be changed easily to your tastes. Whatever your family likes, these will sure to be a treat.

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 egg, beaten

Filling

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Dough:

  1. Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add milk to warm water, mix.
  3. Slowly add water/milk mixture to bowl. All may not be needed.
  4. Mix until a rag consistency is made.
  5. Add a bit more water and start to knead. You want the dough to be slightly sticky.
  6. Once the dough has been kneaded, place into a floured bowl.
  7. Preheat oven to 300 for 1 minute.
  8. Turn off and place dough in oven for 1 hour to rise.

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Filling:

  1. In a pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add onion and sprinkle salt over to help sweat.
  2. Once the onion have become partly translucent add tomatoes. Saute until the onions have become clear and tomatoes have broken down. Cover.
  3. Add spinach, allow to break down then add mushrooms.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
  5. Continue to saute for a few more minutes then remove from heat.
  6. In another pan brown and season meat with salt, pepper, cinnamon and cumin.
  7. Add the vegetables into the meat and mix thoroughly.
  8. Let cool completely before forming.

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Forming:

  1. Roll a golf ball sized piece of dough on to a lightly floured surface with a thickness of about 4mm. It doesn’t have to be perfect but the diameter should be able to cover 2 spoonfuls of filling.
  2. Fill with filling and fold over sides and roll in top and bottoms crimping as you turn them over.
  3. Place onto parchment paper and continue forming until you have run out of dough and filling. You should be able to make 8 hand pies with the dough.
  4. Let rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  6. Brush pies with beaten egg.
  7. Sprinkle salt on top.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Chorba Beida (Algerian White Soup)

Chorba Baida

Chorba Beida or White Chorba as it’s called in our home is a traditional Algerian soup from Algiers and Constantine. We normally have it throughout Ramadan or even on a cold Florida night which is not often, lol. Traditionally the soup is made without vegetables. For a culture that uses more vegetables than meat I found it odd that the soup required none. But my mother in law adds potato and zucchini, so we do too. White Chorba has a counterpart known as Chorba Frik that has frik (ground durum) but for White Chorba rice, orzo, vermicelli or even angel hair is used instead.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken (breast is best)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 small potatoes chopped
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • 1 small zucchini chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • handful of angel hair (no more than a nickel in diameter)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups hot water
  • chicken bouillon (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a soup pot, heat olive oil and add onions. Sprinkle with a bit of salt to sweat until translucent.
  2. Add chopped chicken then season with salt, cinnamon and black pepper. Brown chicken slightly. Do not let chicken stick to pot.
  3. Then add chickpeas and potatoes. Fill pot with 5 cups hot water. Bring to a boil.
  4. Once the boil has started, let it do so for 1 minute then turn down to medium-low heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add zucchini to pot and continue simmering for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl beat the egg, and lemon.
  7. While stirring the pot profusely pour in the egg and lemon mixture. This will make the soup turn white in color. Continue stirring to throughly mix the egg in.
  8. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Pour into bowls and garnish with parsley.
  10. Serve with boureks (Algerian Fried Pastry) and bread such as a baguette.

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M’thouem Sauce Blanche (Algerian Garlic Meatballs in White Sauce)

Algerian M'thouem

M’thouem or M’tewem is an Algerian dish specifically from Algiers. A  traditional dish during Ramadan; it is composed of meatballs, chickpeas and garlic. In Arabic the word “thouem” means garlic, hence the name M’thouem. The amount of garlic in this dish can be adjusted at will. There are many variations of this dish, as the sauce can be red or white and the chickpeas can be switched out with almonds or served with both. What you pair with it can vary as well, over couscous, or just with bread to soak up the sauce. Either way you serve it, I’m sure this dish will become a staple in your home soon.

Today I will be preparing M’thouem Sauce Blanche as it is my husband’s favorite way for it to be done.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound minced beef (93% lean is best)
  • 3/4 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup almonds (blanched and split)
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped finely (some people use a hold head, or you can use less)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl combine minced beef, bread crumbs, salt, cumin and black pepper.
  2. Roll into meatballs no larger than a quarter in circumference.
  3. Place meatballs on wax paper and refrigerate for 5 minutes.
  4. In a pot heat olive oil and throw in onions. Sprinkle with salt and let sweat until translucent.
  5. Turning down the heat to medium low, add in garlic. Let sweat quickly making sure not to burn.
  6. Add meatballs to pot and let brown. Browning the meatballs will ensure that they will not fall apart in the sauce.
  7. Once meatballs have browned add chickpeas.
  8. Add hot water just covering the meatballs. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a beef bouillon cube if taste is not rich enough.
  10. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it do so for 30 minutes. You want the sauce to reduce in half.
  11. 10 minutes before serving add in the almonds.
  12. Serve with a nice crusty bread such as a baguette.

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Adjidjettes Sardine (Algerian Sardine Patties)

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In the United States little is ever thought of when it comes to Sardines. Negative stereotypes such as that “smelly fish in a can” all came through my head when my husband told me he wanted Sardine Patties. But when he brought the fresh fish home, I started to come around. We prepared them together, gutting and deboning, disgusting to say the least but after tasting them I looked back at all the years I let pass without having them in my life!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh sardines, gutted and filleted
  • 3/4 – 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pinch paprika

Directions:

  1. If you already have your sardines cleaned and deboned, slice into small pieces as it will break down easier when forming patties.
  2. Place fish into a large bowl.
  3. Add to the fish the garlic powder, parsley, onion, cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper, egg and flour.
  4. Mix thoroughly with your hands creating a chunky paste consistency.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. Form into oversized half dollar patties and place them on wax paper until ready to fry.
  7. In a large pan of vegetable oil fry the patties on each side for approximately 3-4 minutes.
  8. Once the patties are brown in color, they are done.
  9. Blot in paper towels and serve with lemon wedges.

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*If you are unable to find them fresh you will be able to find them in any asian market in the frozen section of fish. They most likely come from Spain or Portugal. Just let them defrost and clean them.

Algerian Green Mint Tea

image teapot

Mint tea can be referred to by many names; Saharan, Maghrebi, and most commonly as Moroccan Tea. All the same, they are served in most North African countries in the Maghreb region. The serving of tea is a sort of ceremony especially when prepared for a guest. Typically three glasses are served and each glass will vary in taste because of how long the tea has steeped. It is also considered impolite to refuse which is hard since the first glass will always be the most bitter. Both dried and fresh mint can be used to infuse the tea. The tea to be used is a special Chinese green tea called gunpowder which refers to the leaves that are rolled tightly into pearls and explode like gunpowder in the water. Watching the tea being poured is truly a delight. How they grasp a piping hot copper tea pot and able to pour it into a glass two feet away is beyond me. Pouring it from that height aerates the tea, improving its flavor. Using my recipe your tea will be just as good as being prepared like the natives. With more practice you’ll be pouring like them too!

image-gunpowder tea

Special Tools Needed:

  • Tea Pot
  • Small Strainer (most teapots have one in the spout)
  • Oven Mitt (I can’t grasp my handle without one)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons gunpowder green tea
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar
  • handful of mint leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 10 cups water

Directions:

  1. Place tea pearls inside teapot.
  2. Bring water to a boil, then immediately pour half of it into teapot, subsequently pouring the water from the teapot out. (this washes the tea, let the water sit for more than a few seconds and it will cause the tea to become weak)
  3. Put mint leaves into the teapot, the heat from the pot will sweat the oils from the leaves.
  4. Bring the remaining water back to a boil and add in sugar.
  5. Pour the sugared water into the teapot.
  6. Let sit for a few minutes.
  7. Serve with cookies.

*The tea and mint should be left in the teapot and at times it does get into the tea glasses but it adds a different flavor with each glass. Most times candles are lit as well to create an ambience.

Sablés (Algerian Cookies)

image

This is my own accidental recipe in which I mistook a bottle of Lemon Extract for Vanilla, and it made for an even more decadent cookie just like my husband’s grandmother makes.  From the French word sable which means sand the dough will start off as a texture that looks as so. The cookies are easily customizable with fillings and shapes. I hope these make their way onto your list of sweets for Eid.

Special Tools Needed:

  • cookie cutter (any shape is fine but a round fluted cutter is used traditionally)
  • sifter
  • rolling pin

Ingredients: For the Sables

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla powder or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • a pinch of salt

To decorate

  • 3/4 cup jelly (any flavoring of your choice but no fruit bits)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Cut the butter into the sugar, mix until it is light and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Fold in the eggs, vanilla, lemon and sugar mixture.
  5. Mix slowly until a sand texture is made then continue to mix by hand. The dough should be soft and light. If the dough is too sticky add a bit more flour.
  6. Let dough sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to harden. It helps to handle the dough better.
  7. Roll dough out onto a floured surface with a rolling pin. Make sure to flour the pin as well.
  8. Cut out the top and bottoms of the cookies, don’t forget to punch out a hole in the middle of the tops.
  9. Place on a baking tray lined with wax paper and bake for 8-9 minutes. The cookies should be still white but set.
  10. Allow cut outs to cool on the sheet for a minute then move to a cooling rack.
  11. Find suitable matching tops and bottoms as some may not be shaped the same.
  12. While cookies are cooling heat the jelly on the stove, adding the orange blossom water to thin it out.
  13. Sift powdered sugar onto the tops.
  14. Once the jelly mixture has cooled place about 1/2 teaspoon onto each bottom and place top on.
  15. Allow to set and then store properly.

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* Sablé cookies are able to store for up to 10 days.