1st Dinner Club Meeting – Moroccan
The club members are identified and the schedule set. Now it’s time to get cooking. Since we didn’t finish getting this all pulled together until February, we scheduled the January/February meeting for March 6th. I’m hosting and I’ve chosen "Moroccan".
Here’s the menu:
- Appetizer: Muhammara
- Cocktail: Moroccan Martini
- Main dish: Tagine of Chicken with Sweet Potatoes & Tagine of Lamb with Prunes (both from "Cafe Morrcco" and/or "Moroccan Cafe")
- Wine: From North Africa but exact wine not recorded :-(
- Salad: Cucumber and Yogurt Salad & Tomato Salad
- Side: Couscous with Pomegranate, Mint and Pine Nuts & Couscous with Raisins and Almonds
- Dessert: Oranges in Champagne Syrup
I chose Morocco, as I am fascinated by the spice trade in the region and how the spices manifest in the fragrance and flavors of the food. This meal did not disappoint!
We started with the muhammara spread on pita accompanied by the martinis. It was rich with the flavors of a sun-drenched land.
We moved on to the salads, tagines and couscous. As you may have noticed, we had two of each - this was so much food! In our exuberance to represent the land neither M, K nor I could limit our choice to a single item. While it was wonderful to have such abundant variety it was pretty overwhelming!
The salads were a cool and refreshing complement to the spices in the other dishes. Both tagines were fragrant with their rich sauces. The couscous was both earthy and fruity and the texture was a perfect accompaniment for the tagines.
We ended with a dream of a dessert. The oranges in champagne were light, refreshing and just a little bit sweet. Perfect!
If you look at the recipes you’ll start seeing some common ingredients – pomegranate, saffron, honey, raisins, cilantro/cumin, cinnamon and mint.
We all agreed – the first dinner was quite a success! However, we need to watch how much we make! There are only five of us after all!
A quick note about the cookbooks, Cafe Morocco and Moroccan Cafe, as I thought this was rather interesting. They have different authors and photographers but are almost exactly the same cookbook! I first found and purchased Cafe Morocco. While continuing to do research I came across Moroccan Cafe which, at the time, I thought was an updated version of the first book. They are both still in print, however, and Cafe Morocco has been updated since I first purchased it. It is quite a mystery. The biggest difference between the books is that Moroccan Cafe is more "Americanized" in that ingredients more commonly found in the U.S. are called for in the recipes. This is not necessarily an improvement in my eyes. However, I do live in an area where you can usually find exotic ingredients if you take a little time to look for them. I’m not sure that would be the case in all areas.