Paradise ponders: post-Thanksgiving pain edition... Our b'stilla yesterday was, we think, the best one we've made yet. I did some research yesterday on the web, looking for advice on making them, as our past efforts, while good, didn't taste quite like the version we had at the restaurant. I found a post allegedly by a Moroccan woman who was ranting about how Americans screwed up b'stilla. :) She had two criticisms: one was that Americans crushed their almonds instead of grinding them (something she apparently thought was pretty close to heretic), the other was that Americans used too much water when cooking the chicken and vegetables, leading to watery broth. Well, both of those were definitely possibilities for us – we crushed our almonds and quite likely used too much water.
The almond rant particularly interested me, as the Moroccan woman went to some trouble to explain why it mattered. According to her, unless you ground the almonds they wouldn't express any oil, which provides a key element of flavoring for the b'stilla. Our crushed almonds (toasted) were always dry as dust, so I was really curious if grinding them would actually result in what she said: something akin to crunchy peanut butter. So I whipped out our meat grinder (which we haven't used in years) and ground up our toasted almonds. The result was ... exactly as she described: just like crunchy peanut butter, and very oily. As directed, I mixed that with sugar and cinnamon, and the resulting concoction was way different than anything we'd used before when making a b'stilla. And the resulting dish, I have to say, bears out that woman's rant. I also measured the water we used very carefully, and in fact we ended up with ingredients that matched the recipe. I think we might have done it right this time!
And there are leftovers!
The carrot salad was not what we remembered, but it was pretty good nonetheless. This recipe had cayenne pepper in it, and we won't do that again. Even without the pepper, though, it wouldn't have matched our memory. We'll keep searching for the right recipe.
The chocolate mousse also came out wonderfully. I modified Julia Child's recipe slightly (gasp!): I eliminated the coffee (going for pure, unadulterated chocolate flavor) and I increased the butter from 6 ounces to 8. It was pretty much perfect. :)
Our little canine friends were not left out, either. They got several treats yesterday: an extra banana (3 for 5 dogs, instead of 2), milk on their kibble, egg yolks, and the cream leftover from making the mousse. They were all quite happy with that! :)
My brother Scott, Debbie, and I played a traditional family game last night: Oh, Shit. Scott won. :)