Tag Archives: morocco

dinner club – moroccan food!

28 Oct

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The dinner club that we have with two other couples has been very neglected in the past few months. Originally it was supposed to be a once a month occurrence and a fun way to try a new restaurant. But between work, honeymoons & a baby the six of us have been busy and we went many many many many months without doing it. But we resurrected it!!

Instead of going out and trying a new restaurant, we decided to do a Moroccan themed pot luck dinner at our house. Why Moroccan? I don’t know…why not, right??

It was decided that the Glodney’s would take the main course, The Garahan’s would take the salad & The Rocciho’s would take the side dish & dessert, with each couple also agreeing to bring an alcoholic beverage. Good plan, huh? Brian and I settled on a Moroccan chicken dish and a Moroccan kefta Tagine with lemon and saffron butter sauce (aka fancy meatballs). Preparing these two dishes took all afternoon between the shopping and preparation but it was totally worth it because both turned out delicious. Also, I have said this before but I will say it again- I love cooking with my husband. It’s such a fun way to spend time with him. We both assume our roles in the kitchen- Brian the executive chef and me the always happy to help sous chef. Brian is just more confident at tackling big recipes than I am. Let’s be honest if I was alone I would have most likely panicked half way through the tagine dish and opened a bottle of chardonnay while dialing the nearest chinese restaurant.

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Where I do shine though is setting the dining table. I went with a fall theme (it’s my favorite time of year after all!!) complete with tiny pumpkins, flint corn & gourds, oh and two tiny gold camels, which were party favors from The Garahan’s wedding in May. If I told you how much joy setting the table brought me you would probably laugh. It’s the little things in life, right?

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photo

The evening was perfection…oh and the food was AH-mazing. Rachel and PJ brought a beet (that was prepared with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic & red onion), arugula, goat cheese & pistachios salad with a reduced balsamic salad dressing that knocked my socks off. Such simple ingredients but so flavorful. Loni & Mike brought a Moroccan carrot and quinoa salad that was not only beautiful to look at but so damn tasty- I devoured my plate of it (recipe found here) and for dessert they brought Moroccan date truffles which were tiny pieces of heaven!

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Do any of you guys do a dinner club?? It’s such a fun way to get together with friends as well as EAT!

 

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173

16 Jan

LEARN TO COOK

Teacher : My friend Alex

Dish : Moroccan Chicken

Location : Alex’s place

Alex and I used to live together so I know this boy very well and I can safely say that  he is one of the tidiest and nicest humans around. I also think he is funny, brilliant (he built a picnic table from scratch once. It was pretty impressive) and interesting (he  travels the world for work. Cool right?) I am a little jealous of this. Alright a lot jealous. It’s just not fair Universe!! But I’m not here to talk about unfair things. I’m here to talk about Moroccan Chicken.

Alex knows firsthand that I don’t cook…I don’t think he ever saw me use the stove in our place. He on the other hand actually used the stove in our house to cook things. He’s one of those people that likes to cook and takes joy in the process. Thank God one of us did. He made this Moroccan Chicken dish one night for a dinner party at our house and I was in love with it! The flavors and spices are just unreal- anything with cumin and sweet paprika is good in my book.

Going into the evening Alex was aware of my raw chicken issues. He’s been reading about them here. The day before he taunted me with an email that finished with “There will be lots of handling of chicken tomorrow night so get ready”. You know what my new defense is against raw chicken? Wine. Drinking wine while cooking with chicken softens the blow and makes me see the humor in the bird. Tongs also come in handy. I actually made it through our whole cooking session without touching the bird with my hands once. Yay to tongs and wine.

What a cooking marathon- we cooked for 2 hours while the dinner guests trickled in. The group was a good one. All interesting and lively people. The highlight of the night was chatting with his friend Jeff who happens to have written Cooking For Geeks, which I think it such a great idea! It may not have been Jeff’s highlight though…poor man…I grilled him on everything from cooking (he made an awesome pear dessert) to book proposals. He probably wished he wasn’t sitting next to me!!

(Oh and thanks to Bri for being my photographer:)

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INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 strips lemon zest (each about 2 inches by 3/4 inch)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice , from 1 to 2 lemons

5 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks; wings

reserved for another use) and trimmed of excess fat

Table salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion , halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)

1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon honey

1 medium carrot , peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick coins, very large pieces cut into half-moons

(about 1 cup)

1 cup dried apricots , halved

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Combine spices in small bowl and set aside. Mince 1 strip lemon zest; combine with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and mince together until reduced to fine paste; set aside. 2. Season both sides of chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large heavy–bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 Top: White Meat Middle: Carrots Bottom: Dark Meat minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer chicken to large plate; when cool enough to handle, peel off skin and discard. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. 3. Add onion and 2 remaining lemon zest strips to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned at edges but still retain shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add 1 tablespoon water if pan gets too dark). Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in broth and honey, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add thighs and drumsticks, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes. 4. Add carrots, apricots, and breast pieces (with any accumulated juices) to pot, arranging breast pieces in single layer on top of carrots. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes. 5. Transfer chicken to plate or bowl and tent with foil. Add chickpeas to pot; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid has thickened slightly and carrots are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Return chicken to pot and add garlic-zest