Elias & Sandra (Part 2)
Elias, a production manager and his wife Sandra who works in finance, live with their two beautiful young daughters Layan and Inês in east London. Elias grew up in London, south of the river, while Sandra spent most of her childhood in Paris. They both love food, with Elias doing the majority of the cooking in the household with Sandra often taking care of breakfast. Breakfasts at weekends tend often consist of eggs benedict, or a huge pile of pancakes with fresh fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Elias is influenced by his Moroccan heritage and enjoys cooking food from North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and Spain. He also very much enjoys nose to tail eating but generally tends to cook rustic ‘oven-to-table’ type foods as he has a preference for family style meals where everyone can dig in and help themselves.
Today their friends Adrian, Angela and their daughter Ori, join Elias and Sandra at home.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up on a Sunday?
We might have breakfast together at the dining table or try to make a trip first thing to Columbia Road Flower Market and have breakfast there, depending on how lackadaisical we are feeling on the day.
Who do you spend your Sunday with?
Always with Sandra, Layan and Inês, and often with friends or extended family.
What’s your earliest memory of a Sunday Dinner and what did it entail?
My step-father is English and my mother is originally from Tetouan, in Morocco, so my memories vary depending on who would be cooking – my father’s speciality was a traditional roast beef with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, homemade horseradish and gravy. My mother and father still argue to this day over the best way to cook the roast potatoes. We would regularly end the meal with apple pie and vanilla ice cream.
When my mother cooked, the dishes would vary between European dishes and Moroccan dishes, but often my mother would make a fall-off-the-bone lamb tagine with prunes, boiled eggs and almonds; or couscous (or “soucsou” as they say in Morocco) with a mountain of vegetables and the most tender of beef or lamb. The couscous would take all morning to prepare in a 6 litre couscous pot – not quite the same as the microwavable couscous we find today.
Also, we would always have a revolving door of friends and family over for lunch – I try to recreate this “social” environment in our own home.
What do you enjoy most about Sundays?
We always try to go to Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday mornings, even if we have guests visiting later in the day. We will peruse the plants and flowers and then grab breakfast at either Brawn or Campania Gastronomia, before heading home – usually with a large bouquet of flowers crammed into the basket of our buggy.
Do you eat the same meal every week?
Not necessarily – we do a roast of some sort more often than not, but we would rather simply cook things we like to eat. I often make a banquet dish of Palestinian origin which is really unique in its flavour, yet delicious – it is called Makloubeh (meaning “upside down”), and it consists of chicken, aubergine, cauliflower, rice, pine nuts and a medley of herbs and spices.
What’s your guilty pleasure on a Sunday?
I tend to sip (guzzle) on Port or Madeira wine as I’m cooking. I am usually quite merry by the time lunch is served.
What ingredient can’t you do without?
There are a few ingredients I use a lot (certain spices, for example) but I seem to get through a prolific amount of lemons. I use lemon juice in salads but I also like to preserve lemons to use in dishes, such as the one I am making today.
What’s on the menu?
Chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemon; spiced roast potatoes; fried cauliflower with cumin; a medley of Moroccan salads.
Mixed berries with a Port wine and rose water syrup for dessert.
Where are your ingredients from?
A number of places – as our family grows online grocery shopping is inevitably becoming more convenient. We bought a lot of our staple ingredients online from Ocado. We also bought some of the fruit and veg from our local market (no frills but an honest market it is!), as well as our local butcher, and a few last minute purchases from the local supermarket.
CHICKEN TAGINE, SPICED ROAST POTATOES, FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH CUMIN AND A MEDLEY OF MOROCCAN SALADS.
Brown the chicken in rapeseed oil.
Fry the finely chopped onion and garlic until golden brown. Transfer the browned chicken.
Infuse the saffron threads with a cup of water, add to the chicken along with all the spices and seasoning.
Cook on a low-medium heat for 40 mins.
Add the green olives, coriander and parsley, cook for a further 15-20 mins.
Remove flesh and pith from preserved lemons and finely slice the skin, add to the pot, cook for a further 10 mins before serving.
Chicken legs and thighs
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
1 level tsp ground ginger
1 pinch of saffron threads
1 generous pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of ground white pepper
A small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
A Small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
2 cups of water
450g pitted green olives
1 large preserved lemon or 2 small preserved lemons
Recipe: Elias' own.
Preheat oven to 200C (fan).
Peel and cut potatoes into 4 wedges.
Rinse potatoes under cold running water to remove starch.
Pat dry and place in bowl, along with all ingredients – mix well together.
Place in oven for 40-50 mins.
Recipe: Elias' own
Moroccan spiced potatoes
1.5kg Maris Piper potatoes
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp harissa
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp of tomato paste
A generous pinch of dried thyme
1 table spoon goose fat
1 table spoon olive oil
1 bulb of garlic