Ras El Hanout and Dates Hotdish

Can you believe I spent the first 20 years of my life in Brussels, Belgium and never stepped a foot in Bruges, Belgium? I know, shocking! To remedy this upsetting situation Zayd and I spent a few days in Bruges last week and oh my God, we loved it! The heart of the city is entwined with small and super romantic canals and bridges. The whole town has a kind of medieval architectural look that makes you feel like you’re taking a walk in the past, alongside Robin Hood and his friends, the Merry Men. Of course, we loaded up our bellies with chocolate from BbyB aka my new favourite Belgian chocolate, speculoos and moules + frites. I also had the pleasure to reunite with my favourite childhood pastry: carré à la crème. It’s a perfectly laminated square shaped puff pastry filled with crème patissière. A beautiful morning always meant a carré à la crème for breakfast. So yes, it was a great trip.

I came back to London yesterday and I am super excited because I finally get to share with you this recipe from Molly Yeh’s cookbook, Molly on the Range. For those who don’t know Molly (although I am sure you all do!), she is an impressively brilliant food blogger who shares unique recipes inspired by her Jewish and Asian heritage as well her Midwest/farm surroundings. Her writing is beautifully honest and fun and she has this great ability to let you inside her world made of sprinkles, challah, macaronis and marzipan. Her book, Molly on the range is an improved version of all the above, which means that you’re going to want to read the book, cook from it but also cuddle it. #truestory

I couldn’t wait for Molly’s book to finally arrive and when it did and I found out it has a recipe that combines farm life (hello hotdish!) and Morocco I couldn’t resist but making it and sharing it with you. I used regular rice mixed with wild rice instead of wild rice only and I used flatbread instead of saltines to top the hotdish because ain’t no saltines in England! You know I am obsessed with ras el hanout, and as a result I was very excited and curious about this dish because ras el hanout and a hotdish are pretty much *opposite* things but Molly’s managed to make it all work and made the Midwest and Morocco very good buddies that create tasty combinations. 

Ras el hanout hotdish 7.jpg
Ras el hanout hotdish 3.jpg

Ras el hanout and dates hotdish

INGREDIENTS

Reprinted with permission of the author, including adaptations, from Molly on the Range

Serves 6

  • 150 gr (¾ cup) mixture of jasmine and wild rice
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots cut into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces
  • Black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
  • 450 gr minced beef  
  • 30 gr plain flour
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (400ml/14 oz.)
  • 250 ml (1 1/3 cups) beef or vegetable broth
  • 50 gr pitted dates, cut into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces
  • 4 flatbreads, cut into 2,5 cm (1 inch) square pieces
  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

METHOD

 Preheat the oven to 200 C (375 F).

 Cook the rice according to the manufacturer’s instructions and set aside. 

 In a large casserole or a deep skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, a few turns of black pepper and the salt and cook, stirring until soft, about 10 minutes.

 Add the ras el hanout and cook for 2 more minutes and then add the beef. Cook breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it is no longer pink. Add the flour and stir to combine.

 Add the coconut milk and cook stirring until thickened, and then add the broth and cook, stirring until thickened. Add the dates. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Stir in the rice, mix to combine and transfer the mixture into a large baking dish or 6 small baking dishes.

 Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the flatbread and toss to combine.

 Spread the flatbread pieces over the top of the dish. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes until golden on top. Top with fresh parsley and lemon juice. Let cool slightly before serving.