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posted by Stephanie in Indulgences
“Yallah! Yallah! Un euro le kilo!” Wading through the markets of Paris one would hear just as much of this Arabic expression as Bonjour. While the cosmopolitan City of Lights is a true melting pot of cultures no one can deny the close historical linkages between France and North Africa or what they most commonly call le Maghreb. Algeria being an integral part of France from 1830 to 1962 and Morocco and Tunisia being French Protectorates until the mid-Fifties it’s no surprise that Le Couscous with it’s bountiful vegetables, grilled merguez sausage and comforting, flavorful broth is a dish that is just as French and present in every corner café-bistrot-brasserie as a croque monsieur. It’s while living in Paris that I discovered this fabulous cuisine, Mediterranean in essence and yet unique, distinct and exotic with layers of heady spices and sun-soaked flavors. Coriander, cumin, sun-dried tomatoes, mint, bell peppers, saffron, caraway, cinnamon, preserved lemons… and of course their gorgeous spice paste – harissa. This dense, smoky paste made from a blend of chilies both fresh and dried, coriander, caraway and cumin some garlic and olive oil. Just a smidgen can give the right amount of exotic heat to any dish. One of my favorite uses is to add it to anything with a tomato base to deepen the sauce and I usually add it while sautéing the onions and garlic to really bring out the flavors. You can check out my recipe for a Lamb Harissa Bolognese in my contribution to the www.thespoiledmummy.com . Another favorite use is while sautéing some fish or shrimp in olive oil and butter, after cooking, I add some harissa to the pan, deglaze with white wine and add a little more butter for a quick piquant sauce. Le Phare du Cap Bon in its iconic yellow and blue container is one of the most popular brands of harissa. I find harissa locally in Rustass Supermarkets or Santis but you could also try this great recipe at home from thekitchn.com . It’s the best one online yet with easy variations for more or less heat and some interesting flavors… In fact, harissa is something I prefer over Sriracha and because of the complex heat that adds a nice depth in the background… Love and light and some spicy cooking, Stephanie
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.
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