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Moroccan Dinner for 6

Assorted homemade or purchased appetizers: hummus, baba ghanoush, olives, grilled flatbread or crackers, pistachios
Orange and Grated Radish Salad with Orange Blossom Water
Moroccan Chicken
Couscous with Tomato and Onion
Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini Sauce and Za’atar
Tarte Tatin with Apples, Raisins and Orange Blossom Water

While testing recipes using preserved lemons and preparing a dinner menu, I began with the main dish, Moroccan chicken, a recipe recently given to me by my cousin, Daphne. I then drew inspiration from two wonderful cookbooks: Paula Wolfert”s “The Food of Morocco” and Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s “Jerusalem, a Cookbook”. I simplified the menu by purchasing the hummus and baba ghanoush, and serving them with olives and sesame crackers.

Orange and Grated Radish Salad with Orange Blossom Water
Morrocan Orange Salad

On the Moroccan table, several salads are served at once. These will be made with seasonal vegetables and fruit and can mostly be prepared in advance. In order to make this dinner more manageable and to fit with my custom of serving a soup or salad as a first course, I made the following salad, adapting it from Paula Wolfert’s book, by adding avocado slices (not in photo) and reducing the intensely-flavoured orange blossom water from 2-3 teaspoons, to 1 teaspoon. It is a refreshing introduction to the intense flavours which follow in the main course. Prepare the radishes, oranges and dressing early in the day and keep them cold until ready to finish and serve the salad. Slice the avocado at the last minute, if using.

2 bunches red radishes, washed and trimmed
1 1/2 T. sugar
4 navel oranges
1 large avocado, sliced

Dressing: 2 T. orange juice, 1 t. orange blossom water* 1 1/2 T. lemon juice (or more to taste), salt, mint leaves for garnish
*available at specialty markets…I purchased it at Yek o Yek on Main Street in Vancouver.

Using the shredding disk, shred the radishes in a food processor. Alternatively, you can slice them finely. Sprinkle them with sugar and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain the excess liquid from the radishes, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled.

Peel the oranges, making sure to remove all of the white pith, then slice them thinly, cover and chill.

Make the dressing: Mix the orange juice, orange flower water, lemon juice and salt to taste in a small bowl. Unwrap the radishes, add to the bowl and toss. Taste, and add more lemon juice or salt, as necessary. Arrange the orange slices, and avocado (if using), in a spiral fashion on each salad plate. Sprinkle with radishes and dressing and garnish with mint leaves.

Moroccan Chicken
As mentioned above, this recipe was given to me by my cousin, Daphne, who was given it by a friend who lived in Morocco. I am always eager to try any recipe recommended by Daphne, and this one is a winner.

Spice Blend (called Ras-El-Hanout, and available at specialty markets, but homemade is always fresher and more intensely flavoured. Make it ahead: it will keep for a few weeks.)
1 t. each fennel, cumin, coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 t. each ground turmeric and ground cinnamon
2 t. each sweet paprika and ground ginger
1/2 t. each cayenne, ground nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cardamom
1/2 t. each freshly ground pepper and salt
Makes 1/4 cup

2 T. olive oil
3 c. onions, sliced
1/4 c. fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 small can coconut milk
2 quarters preserved lemon, rinsed, seeds and pulp removed
10-12 chicken thighs, skinned, bone-in
10 dried apricots, sliced
1 c. mixed Sicilian olives, pitted

Rub 1 T. of spice mixture over chicken and allow to stand 1 hour.
Sauté onions in olive oil until soft in a heavy stove and oven-proof pot with a lid. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add 2 T. of spice mix and cook stirring, 1 minute. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, olives, apricots and lemon. Add chicken, cover pot and bake at 325ºF for 90 minutes.

Chicken Tagine etc.

Couscous with Tomato and Onion
This recipe is from Jerusalem, a Cookbook. I like the way it can be mostly made ahead and when it is done, it has a crispy crust and can be cut into pie-shaped portions, a nice variation from a heap of couscous on the plate.

3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T. tomato paste
1/2 t. sugar
2 very ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4″ dice
1 scant c. couscous
1 scant c. boiling chicken or vegetable stock
2 1/2 T. unsalted butter
salt and pepper

Pour two tablespoons of the olive oil into a non-stick pan about 8 1/2″ in diameter, and place over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, stirring often, until it has softened but not coloured. Stir in the tomato paste and sugar and cook for one minute. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 t. salt and some black pepper and cook for three minutes.

Meanwhile, put the couscous in a shallow bowl, pour over the boiling stock and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 10 minutes, then remove the cover and fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the tomato sauce and stir well. You can prepare this up to this point several hours ahead, then continue on with recipe.

Wipe the pan clean and heat the butter and remaining 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted, spoon the couscous into the pan and use the back of the spoon to gently pat it down so it is all packed in snugly. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and allow the couscous to steam for 10-12 minutes, until you can see a light brown colour around the edges. Use a palette or other knife to help you peer between the edge of the couscous and the side of the pan: you want a really crisp edge all over the base and sides.

Place a large plate on top of the pan and quickly turn the couscous on to the plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini Sauce
Also from Jerusalem, a Cookbook, this recipe can be made hours ahead of time (without adding the dressing) and reheated and dressed just before serving, or it can be served at room temperature. In this version, the squash and onion are left unpeeled, but I peeled mine…I’m sure it’s good either way.

1 large butternut squash, cut into 3/4 by 2 1/2″ wedges
2 red onions, cut into 1 1/4″ wedges
3 1/2 T. olive oil
3 1/2 T. light tahini paste
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
2 T. water
1 small clove garlic, crushed
3 1/2 T. pine nuts
1 T. za’atar
1 T. coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475ºF.
Put the squash and onion in a large mixing bowl, add 3 T. of the oil, 1 t. salt and some black pepper and toss well. Spread on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions as they might cook faster than the squash and need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To make the sauce, place the tahini in a small bowl along with the lemon juice, water, garlic, and 1/4 t. salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.
Pour the remaining 1 1/2 t. oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts along with the 1/2 t. salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.

Moroccan Vegetables

Tarte Tatin with Apples, Raisins and Orange Blossom Water
This recipe of Paula Wolfert’s takes the classic tart and gives it a Moroccan twist.

1/2 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup orange flower water
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
10 Golden Delicious apples
juice of 1-2 lemons
one 8-ounce frozen puff pastry
crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream

Soak the raisins in the rose water until ready to use.
Slowly melt the butter in a 12″ shallow non-stick ovenproof pan. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the melted butter and cook on low heat for 5 minutes, without letting the sugar darken. Remove from the heat and let the butter cool until solidified.

Meanwhile, peel, halve, and core the apples; use a soft pastry brush to paint lemon juice on each half to prevent browning. Arrange 12 of the apple halves cut side up in a slightly overlapping circle around the edge of the pan, all facing in the same direction. Place the remaining halves in the center to fill in the empty spaces.

Set the pan over medium heat and cook until the juices from the apples, along with the butter and sugar, begin to bubble and turn a dark caramel-brown, about 40-45 minutes. If the rings on your burner are small, move the pan around every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooking. When finished, remove the pan from the heat and let stand until cool. The dish can be prepared early in the day up to this point, or even the day before. Cover and let stand in a cool place without disturbing the apples.

About 2-3 hours before serving, preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Drain the raisins. Scatter them evenly over the apples. Roll out the pastry to a 13-14″ circle (or smaller if using a smaller pan) and place on top of the apples. Carefully push the edges of the pastry down inside the pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

Remove the tart from the oven and let it settle for a few minutes. Place a large round/rimmed platter over the tart, then quickly and carefully invert the tart onto the platter. Gently tap on the bottom of the pan to loosen any apples that may have stuck. If any apples still stick to the pan, loosen with a thin spatula and set them back onto the tart. Wait for at least 10 or 20 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature, with crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream.
Moroccan Tarte Tatin

If you are planning to make this menu for a dinner party and would like to prepare some of it in advance, I have staged the preparation over the course of 4 days.

Day 1:
1. shop for all ingredients
2. prepare or purchase za’atar and spice mix for chicken

Day 2:
1. prepare chicken, refrigerate and re-heat before serving
2. make tahini sauce

Day 3:
1. prepare tart, up to caramelizing the apples, then cool, cover tightly and refrigerate
2. prepare couscous and its tomato sauce, mix, cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to brown it
3. take frozen pastry out of freezer and let it defrost slowly in the refrigerator

Day 4:
1. prepare and bake squash and onion
2. grate radishes, drain, and chill
3. peel and slice oranges, and chill
4. mix dressing ingredients, and chill
5. roll out pastry and place on top of apples (you can chill it again now)
6. bake tart as late in the day as possible, or bake and reheat before serving
7. beginning about 1 hour before serving, reheat chicken, brown the couscous, reheat vegetables if desired, then drizzle with tahini sauce
8. assemble salad just before serving

Shopping List

2 bunches radishes
5 navel oranges
1 large avocado
4 lemons
fresh mint
4 yellow onions
2 red onions
1 head garlic
1 large piece fresh ginger
2 tomatoes
1 large butternut squash
10 Golden Delicious apples

Za’atar OR fresh thyme, sesame seeds, coarse salt, sumac
Ras-El-Hanout OR: fennel, cumin and coriander seeds
turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, ground ginger, cayenne, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, allspice

olive oil

Special Ingredients
orange blossom water
preserved lemons
chicken broth
coconut milk
dried apricots
mixed olives
tomato paste
tahini paste
pine nuts
dark raisins
frozen puff pastry

unsalted butter
crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream

10-12 chicken thighs

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sidney Williams #

    Yummy! Great menu! Maybe in PS? BTW the Brocks and Clarks are on for cocktails at 6 on Tuesday. oxs

    Sent from my iPad

    February 28, 2013
  2. Looks like a great meal! I love the fact that you can make a lot ahead of time. ;^))

    March 5, 2013

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