i just came back from a couple of days in paris (paris!) with three girlfriends. as audrey hepburn once pointed out: "paris is always a good idea". so, need i really elaborate? don't go about and say it's torture, later... chuckle.
the trip was simply wonderful, from a to z. we were eating like goddesses (pastries, salads, cheeses, pommes alumettes, baguettes, breads, maccarons, éclairs...), shopping (guilt included, though i really made some cheap finds, too), sightseeing (only a bit, since we've all been before), general wandering about and enjoying everything the city has to offer. it's like my heart grew bigger with this trip, expanded, trippled in size. i feel so blessed and thankful for the opportunity to travel and simple have a good time. it gives you the energy to put up with days that aren't all sunshiney and rosey.
some pics will be posted here, soon. for the real deal, though, i suggest you visit my instagram feed (i keep the pics coming continually). as you know, i'm practically attached at the hip to my (real and very heavy) camera - but when traveling, i always feel the camera is an obstacle, that its weight stops me in my endeavors. also, one of my friends, our host, is more than just a little bit of a quick walker... so in order to keep up, i wanted to travel lightly and mostly relied on my iphone to capture paris' beauty and treasures. this gives me a certain ability to make impromptu shots, too. anyway, i can't stop looking at the pictures... it's either paris that i'm just really smitten with, or it really was the best time ever.
for now, pics and recipe from the 'jerusalem' supper: moroccan rice briouats. they're sweet and smell and taste divine (thanks to the many spices like vanilla, tonka bean, cardamom, star anise and orange blossom water). dip them into liquid honey (i used acacia) - and they're divine (eaten hot or cold).
moroccan sweet rice briouats
makes about 12
1 phyllo dough (or strudel dough)
2 cups arborio or rice pudding rice
2 cups milk
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans
1 cardamom pod, ground
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. tonka bean, freshly ground
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. orange blossom water
1 tsp. rose water
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1 tbsp. butter (for the rice mixture)
150 g or 1/2 cup butter (for brushing)
confectioners' sugar for dusting
1/2 cup acacia honey
1 tbsp. orange blossom water
start off by cooking the rice pudding: put the rice and milk in a large saucepan, add the cardamom, vanilla beans (halfed and scratched out), cinnamon sticks, tonka bean and sugar. stir constantly, so that it won't stick to the bottom of the pan. reduce heat to low, continue to cook for about 25 minutes until the liquid is soaked up and the rice still has some bite but is mainly tender. stir in the tabelspoon of butter, orange blossom and rose water and raisins, then let cool.
melt the rest of the butter in a open the phyllo dough, then cover with a clean, humid kitchen towel, to prevent the dough from drying out. cut into equal rectangles of about 10x15cm. place a tablespoon (plus/minus) of the rice pudding mix onto the phyllo square at the bottom corner. shape the rice into a longish, saucage like strip along the width side of the rectangle, leaving out a thumb wide on each side (to fold in later). now brush the three other sides of the rectangle (where there's no rice) generously with butter. fold in the sides, then start to roll up. put the roll on a sheet lined with parchment, with the end facing down so that it doesn't spring open. proceed until either all of the phyllo or all of the rice mix is used up. preheat the oven to 220c/400f. brush each roll on top with more butter (this is vital as it will render the briks crispy without them drying out and getting burnt) and bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes, until equally golden-brown and crispy-looking. you can try one at this stage, to check for doneness (the rice should be hot inside, through and through).
while the briks are baking, put the honey and orange blossom water in a small saucepan and heat until liquid, gently, without boiling, as the honey will lose its health-benefits and turn into sugar (or so i was told), which we don't want, of course. remove the briks from the oven, let cool for a couple minutes, then dust with confectioners' sugar. pour the honey into (individual, if you like) bowls and serve with the briks, to dip them into. yumminess.
you might want to serve moroccan sweet, fresh mint tea with it. if you serve it individually, try bundling the mint leaves with a cook's twine. if you serve it from a tea pot, i can only tell you that the moroccans like to create as many 'bubbles' as possible in the tea, thus they pull the tea pot high up above the cups. the more bubbles, the more warmly welcome you are at a place, apparently. i like this custom, but i also really like my own cup of tea (haha) - so i opted for the first method.