“My tongue is smiling.”
Abigail Trillin

Red HarissaIt’s been an extended hot summer, really hot in every sense, now humid too. Add a HOT harissa to it and the combination gets teasingly explosive, bearable maybe? The Red Harissa turned out to be quite explosive, flavours that danced on the tongue. It’s become an integral part of my pantry, a sauce that I find myself reaching for more often than I really should be, but well!Red HarissaOnce in a while you trip across a condiment, a sauce, an additive that is HOT in every sense! I’m not the only one who thinks so. I often find the dieting diva sneaking some into her ketchup, salsa, sandwich. She claims chili helps you lose weight, burn calories, but I suspect she is quite addicted to it too.Red HarissaThe recipe is from a beautiful cookbook called Moorish, which lives up entirely to its name, and covers flavours from Mecca to Marrakesh! Greg & Lucy Malouf seduce your taste-buds with well laid out recipes, beautiful photographs and interesting trivia. They tempt you to churn our a chermoula as easily as you would a pesto, or to get as comfortable with tangines as you are with casseroles. NICE!Red HarissaWith more and more pantries stocking up on spices and ingredients no longer considered ‘exotic‘, you would find most of the stuff either at home or at the corner store. The book reflects the cuisine that sprang as a result of the Arabic occupation of North Africa in the 18th century … the very idea of this culinary expedition is moorish!Red HarissaThis sauce is more complex than most Moroccan versions, and one of many basic recipes Moorish offers – Dukkah, Za’atar, Preserved Lemons & Limes, Pickled Green Chilies, Tahini, Green Harissa, Toum, Taklia, Chermoula. The Chicken Paillard Fried in Cumin Butter is a recipe I use really often. Simple, quick to make, no do ahead stuff, and the flavours are amazing. A salad, a rustic bread, maybe roasted potatoes with it … We love a good chili sauce, the hotter the better; must be the Indian taste-buds, though a little goes a long way. The Sriracha Style Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce above is amazing and my to go recipe whenever red chilies are in season. This year however, I was a little busy and missed making a batch. With the tiny chilies in my garden in bloom, it was time to try the Red Harissa. Red Harissa

Red HarissaInitially taken aback by the number of chilies it used, dry and fresh, I was intrigued by the fact that it used a roasted bell pepper. Harissa is usually made with tomato paste. I made my first jar with slight hesitation; now on my fourth! Used the first batch on these Lamb & Purslane Pides combined with a homemade sweet Plum sauce. Was floored by the explosion of flavour!Red HarissaLamb CalzonesThere’s been no looking back. A tiny 1/4 tsp in tomato ketchup makes it sing, and some in a salsa sets the floor ablaze. Even if you don’t like it hot, just a teeny dot perks up the flavours. Are you game?

[print_this]Recipe: Red Harissa
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Summary: A flavoursome Moroccan red chili sauce which can be found in restaurants across Morocco.  Hot and explosive, it’s worth making. Adapted minimally from Moorish. Makes approx 200ml

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes plus cooling me

  • 1 red bell pepper, whole
  • 10-15 dried long red chilies
  • 4-5 small red chilies {recipe says 10}
  • 3-4 cloves garlic {recipe says 2}
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted, crushed
  • 1tsp caraway seeds, roasted, crushed
  • 60ml olive oil


  1. Soak the dried red chilies in just enough water to rehydrate them while you roast the pepper. Crush the garlic with sea salt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C. {I usually roast my bell pepper when I am baking something else, or do a large batch together}.
  3. Place thee bell pepper on a tray and roast till blackened and blistered, turning often. Remove and place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and leave for 10 minutes. Peel off skin carefully, discard seeds and stalk.
  4. Drain the red chillies and place with remaining ingredients. Puree with the olive oil. Taste carefully for seasoning – it is extremely hot. Adjust sea salt if required.
  5. Tip into a jar and cover with a thin film of oil.
  6. This will keep refrigerated for 3-4 weeks.


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“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”
Thomas Keller

Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadIt’s the season to be jolly, and in many ways jolly hungry! Fresh off the success of the sweet apple olive oil popovers and pull apart bread, I was keen to do a savoury version. The dough which came together beautifully for the Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pop-overs and Pull-Apart Bread delivered its promise in this wonderful Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Olive Oil Pull-Apart Bread.

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Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadEggless, butterless yet light and scrumptious had won me over. The Pioneer Womans Cinnamon Roll Dough which I got from an adaptation from Ginny @ Cooking With Chopin, Living With Elmo for The Secret Recipe Club this month seems to have been one of the best discoveries of the year. It took to the apple stuffing so well, I decided to try my luck with savoury. I sneaked in some butter this time though!Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadSavoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadI might bake and blog a load of sweet on PAB, but my heart is totally savoury. Nothings delights my palette more than savoury bakes, the success of which are always very rewarding. I enjoyed making this bread, adding some red and green chili peppers that I had preserved in vinegar a few days ago. Tangy, chili, salty … loads of flavour in them. I think preserved olives or maybe roasted bell peppers would compliment this bread too. Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadServed my bread with some fresh homemade tomato soup, chargrilled broccoli with chili & garlic and chicken paillards in compound lime cumin butter. Wonderful! I find that working flavours into a basic dough prior to the rising makes the bread burst with flavour, and just the way the family loves it. I reached out for ingredients I found on my counter, in my pantry, in my fridge… flecks of red and green for the holiday season keeping me inspired!Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadInto the dough went dried herbs {fresh would be wonderful too}, garlic {we are a family that loves our garlic}, finely chopped almonds {just because I think nuts add great texture and taste to savoury breads; walnuts would be great too}. As a departure from the earlier recipe, I kneaded the dough for a minute or two before the final rise as it worked some elasticity into the dough, making it more pliable. {I made the dough in my Thermomix. You could use dough hooks or your processor as the dough is quite soft/doughy/sticky}Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadIn other completely unrelated news, my Thai chili plant from Down Under is finally in bloom and I cant wait to ‘harvest’ the first crop. The chilies look purplish at the moment, though I thought they were going to be red! Hmmm…Chili plantOh and our little Coco turned all of 6 months old, naughty as can be. She got thoroughly spoilt and completely untrained in the 4 days I was away … uber naughty again but C.U.T.E.!! Sigh!

Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves

Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

A full of flavour, light savoury pull apart bread. Olive oil, red & green preserved chili peppers, garlic and sharp cheddar make this a wonderful light choice for the festive season. {Eggless/vegetarian}


Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

1 portion dough {recipe follows}

200gm sharp cheddar {or mozzarella}

Preserved chili peppers {or olives, roasted bell peppers etc}

50-75gm unsalted butter, melted, cooled

Dough {from The Pioneer Womans cinnamon rolls; can be made a day ahead}

2 cups whole milk, warm

1/2 cup light olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 heaping spoon salt

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 tbsp dried Italian herbs {or fresh}

1tsp red chili flakes

1 package active dry yeast

4 cups {plus 1/2 cup extra, separated} all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon {heaping} baking powder

1/2 teaspoon {scant} baking soda

1/2 to 3/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped fine



    Mix the milk, olive/vegetable oil and sugar in a pan (LARGE POT).

    Sprinkle in the Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute {5-10minutes}.

    Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

    After rising for at least an hour, add 1/2 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Knead the dough for a minute or two before the final rise as it seems to work some elasticity into the dough, making it more pliable. {I made the dough in my Thermomix. You could use dough hooks or your processor as the dough is quite soft/doughy/sticky}

    {At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down}

    Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

    Grease the sides of an 8" Victoria sandwich tin, and line the base.

    Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/4" thick, and pour over half the melted butter, spreading evenly with an offset spatula.

    Grate cheddar all over, and sprinkle over with chopped pickled chili peppers.

    Roll the larger end like a swiss roll. With a sharp knife {or floss} cut into12 portions, and place cut side up in the prepared tin all around the edges. There will be gaps in the dough, don't worry. All the gaps get filled in as the bread rises before and during baking. {You could also use a muffin tray. I lined the bottoms with circles of parchment and greased the sides.}

    Place a dessert ring/mould in the centre so that the dough doesn't spread inward. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double, about an hour.

    Bake at 180°C 40-45 minutes. Cover with foil last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Brush with the remaining melted butter as soon as it comes out.

    Leave in pan for 15-20 minutes, then loosen the sides with a butter knife and turn out.

    Serve warm or at room temperature. {The bread tastes good the next day too, sliced and reheated on a non stick pan with a few drops of EVOO}


I made half the above portion.

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