I read in the NYT’s magazine a few weeks ago that Bill Willis had died. You may not know his name but if you are a fan of design you probably know his iconic style from his work on Yves St Laurent’s Villa Oasis in Marrakech. He made Marrakech chic again in the 60’s by creating sensual retreats where one could live and breathe in the vivid colors and patterns of the harems and souks of Morocco. It was decadent and exotic to lie on silk cushions before a pool scented with rose petals, the intoxicating perfume of spices (and drugs) coming over ancient courtyard walls… no wonder it was a playground for rock royalty and wild young rich things.
As I looked at the images of Jardin Majorelle (the painter Jacques Majorelle’s 1924 homage to cobalt blue that St. Laurent adopted that you can see here: Majorelle : A Moroccan Oasis (Small Books of Great Gardens)I had a hankering for a favorite dish I had discovered at Orangette’s blog 2 years ago when I was seduced by this passage:
“I should begin by saying this: do not underestimate the combined power of fresh goat cheese, honey, and olives. (Or spicy olives, to be specific, coated in something akin to harissa.) It is the trifecta. It will slay you. “
She later mentioned M’semmen as the buttery vehicle for this gathering of delicious ingredients inspired by a Moroccan stall in Brussels. By the next day I had made the breads, spread the goat cheese, sprinkled on the olives and drizzled my spiced honey. Just so you know, m’semmen are flaky breads like chapati with buttery layers. They are easy to make and to store (freeze them uncooked then thaw for a few minutes and fry). M’Semmen with honey is a traditional breakfast in exotic Marrakech. These will get your sexy back. There is something deeply sensual about the combination of warm flaky bread with that sweet hot honey, melting soft cheese and piquant salty olives. I have made it regularly since finding the description 2 years ago. It never ceases to delight, nay, to woo and romance with its flavors. Licking the hot peppery honey off your fingers is…well…you know… a good experience to share.
Finding the cheese and honey is simple and you can buy harissa fairly easily, but I love a version from the late Bert Greene's Kitchen bouquets (there are so many great things in his books) and it is very good with the honey.
M’semmen with Goat Cheese, Harissa Honey and Olives
Soft goat cheese (I use a wonderful spreadable chevre from Patches of Star Dairy in NYC Union Sq. Market)
1 Part Harissa* to 2 Parts honey (I like acacia or heather for this)
Take a m’semmen and cover with goat cheese. Sprinkle with chopped olives and drizzle with 1 or 2 t. harissa honey. Add mint if you would like. It’s great served with mint tea.
M’semmen (makes 14)
1 ½ c flour
1 ½ c semolina
1 c warm water
1 ½ T oil
½ t salt
4 T butter
Add the ingredients together and knead for a few minutes. Let rest for half an hour. Roll into 14-16 balls. Roll out till thin and cover one side with butter, fold 1/3 over and butter the top. Fold the other side over. Turn. Repeat process and rest in the fridge for a few minutes. Roll again to a thin rectangle about 8”x5” cover one side with butter place the other side in a buttered skillet, fry on till brown spots appear then turn and do the buttered side.
2 cloves garlic
2 oz dried chili pepper, seeded (ancho is good for this)
2 t. Aleppo pepper (optional)
4 t caraway seeds
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t salt
1 T hot pepper sauce
Toast chili for a moment, add spices and put in blender with salt and garlic. Slowly add ¼ - ½ c olive oil.
This keeps for months in the fridge.
Thanks to Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday
And come see my first article on Jennie Benedict at BlogCritics!!! And thanks to Lazaro for telling me about it... he is really such an amazing fellow always gushing praise and encouragement always stop by his wonderful blog and read his entries on the BLOG CRITIC.
And, thanks again to everyone for hitting the Google Ads...