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Warming winter Moroccan dinner party for six

Dining scene

Warming winter Moroccan dinner party for six

Contents
 

1 Occasion

2 Menu

3 Wine notes

4 Planning ahead

5 Setting the scene

6 Recipes

 

Occasion

It's a miserable February weekend, cold, dark, holidays are miles away.  Cheer yourself up and throw a Moroccan themed dinner party!

Persuade a few friends to unfurl themselves from their winter woollies, dig out some fancy clothes that haven't seen the light of day since December, and have yourself a party.

Menu

Winter fizz cocktail served with harissa olives and dukkah

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Warming pumpkin and cinnamon soup

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Beef tagine with peas and preserved lemons

Spiced carrots

Celery sauted with Zahtar

Minted couscous

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Winter fruits in ginger syrup with cardamom yoghurt

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Mint tea to finish

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Wine notes

While traditionally in Morocco soft drinks are served with meals, I think wine works very well with Moroccan food.

I have listed below some of the wines I personally feel would match the food.  The advantage of having six for dinner is you can try several wines.

  • Fizz cocktail - A reasonable cava works well for this cocktail.
  • Soup - This delicate soup need a lighter wine that will not swamp it.  A French chardonnay would work well.
  • Main - The beef tagine with its strong robust flavours will take a well aged rioja, or a new world cabinet sauvignon.
  • Dessert - I'm rather partial to dessert wine, an orange flower muscat will complement the orange flower water well.

Planning ahead

A large part of this meal can be prepared ahead, leaving you time to enjoy the evening, no stressed hosts here please.

The olive can be marinated a few days before.  The dukkah is a great thing to serve, just put some of the dukkah into a couple of swallow bowls and some good olive oil in a couple of others and cut some bread up into small chucks.  Dip the bread first into the oil and then the dukkah, a great way the get people moving around and chatting.

The soup can be made in the day, just gently heated before serving and dusting with cinnamon.

The beef tagine can be done the day before and chilled up to the point of adding the peas and lemon.

The carrots are best left to marinate.

The fruits can be steeped in the syrup for several hours.  If you are going to make the cardamom yoghurt more than a couple of hours in advance, you may wish to reduce the amount of cardamom as it will get stronger the longer it sits.

Setting the scene

With a few little touches you can add an exotic Moroccan feel to your table.

Traditional ceramic in bold bright colours can add an instant vibrancy to your table.  A large platter to serve the couscous on or brightly coloured soup bowls to serve the pumpkin soup in.

You don't need a vast amount to create a theme.

Lighting - candles are a key point to a dinner party but it's important that you and your guest can see each other and what their eating as well.  Little table top lanterns with candles can give a myriad of patterns and create a lovely glow around your room or table.

Pomegranate fizz

The pomegranate molasses adds a wonderful fruity sweet sour taste that complements the fizz very well. You can use champagne if you wish, but it works very well with cava.



6 tsp pomegranate molasses
Bottle of Cava
Pomegranate seeds to decorate
Champagne glasses to serve

1. Pour a teaspoon of pomegranate molasses into the bottom of a champagne flute

2. add a small amount of cava and mix to combine

3. Top up the glass with cava and mix gently so as not to lose all the bubbles

4. Add a few pomegranate seeds for decoration.

Serves 6

Harissa marinated olives

Start the evening with a tingle, these olives are on the spicy side: if you're unsure of your guests palates, please just reduce the amount of harissa.



2 tbs of roasted red pepper chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tsp of harissa paste, either from a jar or paste made up fresh
125ml olive oil
500g black olives

1. In a bowl large enough to take the olives mix the chopped roasted peppers with the garlic, and mix in the olive oil to form a marinade.

2. Rinse the black olives under cold running water and drain well.

3. Add the olives to the harissa marinade, mixing well, transfer to a clean jar.

4. Seal the jars and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days. Bring the olives to room temperature about an hour before serving.

5. The olives will keep in the fridge for about 10 days.

Makes 2 jars

Pumpkin and cinnamon soup

This delicate, warming soup has a fabulous color.  Try to pick the pumpkin for its colour and taste: crown prince or turks turban are both good.



1kg pumpkin flesh, seed and fibre removed
Small knob of butter
750ml chicken stock
750ml milk
salt and white pepper to taste
2 tsp sugar
75g cooked rice
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Cut the pumpkin into chunks.  Melt the butter in the base of a large pan and stir in the pumpkin, coating well.

2. Add the stock and milk, salt pepper and sugar, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until tender.

3. Puree the soup in batches until smooth.  Return to the pan.

4. Reheat and add the rice.  Add a little water if necessary: you should have a creamy consistency.  When warmed through, tranfer to serving bowls.

5. Dust the top of each bowl with cinnamon and serve.

Serves 4

Tagine with peas, preserved lemon and olives

This is a fresh spring dish full of Moroccan flavours, and goes equally well with beef or lamb.



1kg (2lb) lean lamb or beef, cubed
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of chilli powder, optional
1/4 tsp of saffron threads, lightly crushed
1kg (2lb) fresh peas, shelled weight
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Peel of 1 preserved lemon, cut into pieces
12 green olives

1. Put the meat in the pot with the oil, onion, salt and pepper, ginger, chilli and saffron.

2. Cover with water and cook covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is very tender, adding water to keep it covered in the sauce.

3. Add the preserved lemon peel and olives and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or longer, until the sauce reduced.

4. Add the peas and coriander, and warm through.

5. Serve with bread or couscous.

Pre-heat oven to 180C (gas mark 4).  Serves 6-8.

Spiced carrots

This is a really straight-forward dish and is a great way to liven up carrots in the winter, it also goes with lots of different dishes.



750g carrots, cut into sticks or fairly thick rings
3/4 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cumin
3 tbs of chopped parsley
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs olive oil

1. Cook the carrots in salted water until cooked, I like mine to still have bite, about 5 min.

2. Drain and transfer to a bowl, mix in the paprika, cumin, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl and allow the flavours to marinade for a couple of hours.

4. Either serve at room temperature or warmed through.

Serves 6

Sauteed celery

Simple and tasty.



675g (1 1/2lb) celery
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt
75g (3oz) butter
2 tsp Zahtar spice blend

1. Chop the celery into 5cm (2") chunks and blanch in boiling water for 4 minutes, drain.

2. In the mean time heat the butter in frying pan, add still hot celery and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the Zahtar spice blend, lemon juice & salt, fry for a few minutes & serve.

Serves 4

Minted couscous

This lively aromatic version of couscous goes very well with heavy winter tagines



330g couscous
900ml vegatable stock, hot
225ml olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
6 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1. Put the couscous into a large bowl and pour the hot stock over it. Stir well.

2. Leave until the stock has fully absorbed into the couscous and fork through.

3. Add the olive oil, the lemon juice and mix well.

4. Stir in the chopped mint, and season to taste. Serve warm on a large platter.

Serves 6

Winter fruits in ginger syrup with cardamom yoghurt

These heavenly winter tasting fruits are lifted by the aromatic yoghurt, the resulting dish is surprisingly light. You can use any selection of soft dried fruit



150g demerara sugar
400ml water
Peel of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried lime cracked
60g crystalised ginger, cut into matchsticks
6 soft dried figs, cut in half
6 dates, stoned and cut in half
12 soft dried apricots, cut in half
160g tub of greek style yoghurt
a few, 5 or 6, cardamom seeds crushed

1. Place the sugar in a pan add the water, lemon peel, cinnamon, lime and ginger.

2. Bring to boil, stir to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

3. Add the fruit and return the pan to a low heat, slowly bring back to the boil and then turn dowm and simmer the friuts for 10 mintutes. Take off the heat and leave to steep for 30 minutes.

4. To make the cardamom yoghurt, mix the crushed seed into the thick yoghurt and chill until needed. Ideally for ay least 30 minutes.

5. To serve spoon the fruit and a little of the ginger and syrup into small glasses, a cocktail glass is ideal, and spoon a little cream on top.

Serves 6

Mint tea



300ml (1/2 pint) water
5 tsp sugar
1 tsp Maroque mint tea blend
 
OR
 
300ml (1/2 pint) water
5 tsp sugar
1 tsp green tea
bunch of fresh mint leaves

1. Bring the water to the boil.  Put the sugar and the mint tea (or green tea with fresh mint leaves) in a small traditional Moroccan tea pot, and add the boiling water.

2. Leave to steep for 5 minutes, serve hot.

Makes enough for 2 glasses

printed from www.maroque.co.uk