January 20, 2008

One Night in Morocco

Last night was our turn to host Supper Club. When I was trying to come up with a fun theme for us to build our meal around, I kept going back to Moroccan food. A few months ago, we discovered this fantastic restaurant, Marakesh. The food is incredible, and if you go on a Saturday night, the have live entertainment which includes bellydancing. It's quite a night out, and it was a perfect way to introduce us to this cuisine.

With the theme decided on, we all began our search for the perfect recipes to accentuate the aromatic spices that are so common to Moroccan food. We all did a bit of searching for certain ingredients this past week, and fortunately were successful!

Our meal began with an assortment of tapenades purchased from one of my favorite places, Trader Joe's. If you have the opportunity to go into one, don't miss it. They have a fantastic assortment of what I call "goodies for the foodie". We served the tapenades with pita traingles. I'll definitely be keeping an assortment of these amazing tapenades on hand. They would also make a great addition to a sandwich.

Next, was a delicious Moroccan Chickpea Soup. This was a thick and hearty soup, which I would say would be perfect for any cold Winter's day. There was just enough "kick" from the cayenne pepper added to the soup. It was a nice chunky soup with spinach thrown in during the cooking, then prior to serving additional spinach was placed into the soup tureen prior to pouring the soup in to wilt it.

My dish, Moroccan Braised Beef, was so incredibly aromatic as it slowly braised. The spices were a mixture of Garam Masala (a wonferfully pungent Indian spice mixture), paprika, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper. The combination was delicious, and you could just taste the cinnamon and the coriander in the Garam Masala. It was a sweet, yet not over the top spicy combination.

Along side, we served Chickpea and Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers. I would say that these could be made and served as a vegetarian meal on their own, or even for a filling lunch. Not only were they a nice presentation, they were delicious and included many of the same spices as the other dishes we made. In addition, Feta cheese could be sprinkled on top and chopped fresh mint. Such an amazing flavor combination.

To finish off our evening in Morocco, a Pineapple & Banana Couscous Pudding was served. Not only was it pretty, it was a perfect ending to our meal. It had a nice texture with the couscous and the addition of the candied pineapple and the brown sugar broiled bananas was a surprisingly not too sweet dessert. We also had an assortment of other desserts which were for the kids, as our Supper Club includes the whole family (8 adults and 9 children!) we always serve something kid-friendly for the younger members of our group.

As I receve the recipes for all the dishes we made, I will link them to this post so that they can be easily found. Overall, a wonderful evening with friends and delicious food!

Thanks, to each and everyone of you who enthusiastically embraced the theme I chose!

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