Wednesday, January 12, 2011


It was a day for new things in WheelerandCompany.
I am now working mornings as an architect and spending my afternoons as a mother, probably an enviable mix for most mothers, although the pressure is on to prove that it can be done - that a working mother can still complete significant quality tasks of benefit to an employer in such a short time and yet  nurture happy engaged children at the same time.  I worry about the children less and the work more, so lets see!
I also read this rather refreshing article about how Chinese mothers raise their children and wondered if I was doing it all wrong (answer yes), a lot of food for thought!  I am strict but not that strict.

On a lighter, less daunting note, I made a really tasty tagine tonight, as did my brother in London who phoned at 7pm wondering what to cook for dinner.  Recipe relayed, I hope he enjoys his as much as we did ours.  It looks a little messy and was photographed in a hurry by the hungry photographer, but who cares, it did taste that good!

Fes in Morocco is considered the capital of Moroccan cooking and one of the most particular attributes of this style of cooking is that all the ingredients are placed at once into the cooking pot, rather than placing the basic spices in the oil first or browning the skin of the chicken.
As a consequence, this makes the dish really easy in that once all the ingredients are placed in the casserole, it can bubble away at its leisure for one hour, ensuring very tender meat with a lot of condensed flavour, and a rather relaxed chef.

You will need, for 4:

1 large chicken, cut into quarters or a selection of thigh, leg and breast with skin on
4 tblsps sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp crushed saffron strands( use the back of a teaspoon)
1/2 a preserved lemon, pulp removed and skin cut into thin strips
2 tblsps honey
a handful of blanched whole almonds, cracked and toasted
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Place all the ingredients, with the exception of the honey and almonds into a large casserole dish which has a lid.  Cover and cook for approximately 1 hour on a very low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom.
Remove the chicken pieces and reduce the sauce for about 10 minutes on a medium heat.  Add the honey and replace the chicken pieces.

Serve with toasted almonds and couscous.

You can add almost anything at the end of the cooking stage, my brother added nectarine chunks in his this evening and reported stellar results, you could add raisins or agen prunes or another similarly sweet fruit or some bright green olives for a salty kick.  This is a robust dish often eaten at lunch times in Morocco and it is worth your while experimenting with various sweet, sour and salty additions until you find a combination that you like. 

While the tagine is gently spluttering away in the background, you can spend some quality time with the kinder, like we did, painting everything in sight for the afternoon!

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