So Long, January. Hello, February.
The long, dark days of January have finally come to an end. With the arrival of February, the sun continues to rise just a little bit earlier, and set just a little bit later. Some folks may still be clinging to their New Year's resolutions and rituals after the first 31 days of the year, but February is a hard month to make it through if you chose to diet or restrict yourself from a certain type of food for the new year. If the wing-packed, nacho-loaded day of the Superbowl doesn't cause you to fall off the wagon, chocolate truffles and heart-shaped s'mores on Valentine's Day just might instead. I apologize in advance for the temptations I may invoke.
February brings more than just longer daylight hours and homemade marshmallows- February also brings the season for preserving marmalade. Although traditional marmalade is prepared using bitter Seville oranges from Spain, any citrus fruit can be simmered into a vibrant & refreshing preserve. Along with Seville Orange, Elgin Harvest offers Meyer Lemon Marmalade (with a sweeter lemon aroma) and Blood Orange Marmalade (with hints of raspberry). The two latter preserves aren't as bitter as the Seville variety, but they are all fruity, zesty, & delicious.
Thinking of these citrus fruits leads me to fantasize about warm sunny days, honey bees buzzing, and the sweet scents of blossoms floating through the air. My fantasy world wouldn't be complete without a few other 'requirements': all kitties & puppies would have a lap or hammock to sleep on, there would be no such thing as 'too much wine' or 'not enough time', and most importantly - my backyard would have a Noah's Ark-like orchard with avocado, fig, peach, pear, plum, grapefruit, cherry, lemon, lime, & orange trees. And since this is my fantasy, I would have a wood-burning oven in the backyard, too. My first breakfast in this new land? Moroccan Anise Bread with Blood Orange Marmalade.
What is Anise?
Anise is an herbaceous flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region. The seeds of the plant (also known as 'aniseed') have a sweet, aromatic licorice-like flavour similar to fennel and star anise. Anise is used in many culinary dishes around the globe including black jelly beans, Pfeffernusse cookies, and pizzelles. Anise is also used to flavour many liquors such as ouzo, Jagermiester, absinthe, and my favourite- sambuca.
Moraccan Anise Bread - Recipe
Bread is the staff of life in many parts of the world and Morocco is no exception. As part of a daily ritual, many households prepare a flat, round, leavened bread to take to a local baker to bake. This recipe is one such example called "ksra". This bread can be prepared by hand or with a mixer and dough hook.
Recipe adapted from: Flatbreads & Flavors, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Makes 2 x 9-inch round loaves
2 t dry active yeast
2 1/2 c warm water, divided
3 c of hard unbleached flour
2 t salt
1 T anise seed
1/4 c cornmeal + 1/4 c for dusting
2 1/2 c hard whole wheat flour
*You may prepare the sponge the night before if you prefer. Just cover and place in the fridge after mixing. The bread will have a more flavour with this method. When you are ready to make the bread dough, pull the sponge from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (1/2 an hour) beforehand then proceed with making the dough.
* The loaves are done rising (or 'proofing') when a finger gently pressed into the dough does not bounce back. If you press the dough gently and the dough pushes back immediately, it's not done proofing. If you press the dough gently and the dough deflates, it is over-proofed.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.