Asseing - you try and say it!

Today's recipes are: Moroccan Marinated Carrots; and Dried fruit Cake
I find some French words harder to pronounce than others and this is such a word. You don’t say the end of the word, but you make sort of a nasal thing so that (a French person) would immediately write ‘ng’ on the end in spite of the fact that you never actually pronounced them. With or without ‘ng’, Asseing is a beautiful village in the foothills of the Pyrenees – the mountain range that separates France from Spain. We had a lovely Moroccan lunch there with Ginette and her friends (now ours too!) Kristel and Nicolas. It was the end of March and the weather was still a little cold, but we Europeans go out rain or shine as we would otherwise never get out!

Asseing four of us walking

Asseing is known for its shepherd huts which are made from the local stones and are piled up not cemented. I think dry stone walls is the correct term for this practice. These little huts are hundreds of years old and still completely in tact and absolutely beautiful. Some are still owned by families in the village and they make a point of keeping the creeping ivy under control. Originally they were used by shepherds (hence the name!), but these days they are used occasionally by hunters and amorous youngsters.

shepherds hut Asseing

back of hut

Normally there is a stunning view of the Pyrenees, but the low fog allowed us to use our imagination rather than spoil us with a direct viewing. The village itself is very quaint and well worth visiting. You can walk for hours along well maintained paths and rest at will inside the little huts.

Ginette was born in Morocco and is an excellent cook. She made the meat separately to the vegetable tagine and served it with a very hot chili sauce – I love hot food and slathered it on everything – and, of course, couscous which she had also mildly spiced. She served the ‘jus’ or sauce separately so everybody could decide how much they wanted. I could drink all my meals, so (again!) I ladled it on and was very full after the meal. Ooh, I almost forgot, her sister had made the most fantastic Nut Liqueur which we had as an aperitif and I must remember to ask her again for the recipe. I’ll post it as soon as I have it as it was really good and something different.

If you have been reading my blog (and if you haven’t, you should be!) then you will remember that I wrote a post titled "d'Artagnan - the 4th of the 3 Musketeers" with Moroccan recipes and will give you the other two I made that day – the marinated carrots and the dried fruit cake. Both were very good. There is a picture with the carrots on the above mentioned post. I will make the cake again soon and get the cup measures for my American friends and add a picture to this post as well. I’ll also find a homemade recipe for the Ras-el-Hanout Moroccan spice mix, just in case you don’t have access to this (very nice) mix.

(Serves 6)

1 kg carrots, cut into thick chunks or slices (see NOTE)
30ml / 2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped (fresh or tinned)
5ml / 1 tsp Ras-el-Hanout (Moroccan spice mix)
15ml / 1 tbsp lemon juice
15ml / 1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper

1. Toss the carrots in the oil, spread on a baking tray and roast on oven for about 45 minutes, or until tender and browned.

2. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and add the cooked, hot carrots.

NOTE: You can use potatoes and pumpkins instead of the carrots if you prefer.

(Makes 12 slices)

100g pitted dried prunes
100g dried apricots
80g raisins
100ml rum
500ml milk
150g flour
120g sugar
10ml / 2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
Toasted almond slices to serve

1. Soak the prunes and apricots overnight and then drain. Chop the fruit before or after soaking, depending on what’s easier for you. Soak the raisins in the rum, drain but retain the liquid. Grease a 24-26cm cake tin.

2. Scald the milk. Mix the flour, cinnamon and sugar, then beat in the eggs and the milk. Stir in the rum and fold in the fruit.

3. Pour into the cake tin and bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. The cake is quite stodgy and doesn’t rise much, but is very tasty. Sprinkle with toasted almond slices to serve. I also served it with cream…..

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