Morocco – The Dinner

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Sharing a beautiful meal with 21 of our lovely friends!

I have been looking forward to this for months!  I have been researching the incredible cuisines of Morocco for such a long time, and I finally felt prepared to serve it to my lovely group of friends and to share the recipes with all of you. If you have been following, you might have noticed a series of Moroccan dishes popping up on the blog over the past few weeks, some of those were served at our official Moroccan dinner, in this post, I will re-contextualize how those dishes came together in a meal and share the remaining dishes that we created to fill it out.

Please stay tuned in the coming days as I add the remaining recipes that will were served in this meal.

I will be honest, I feel like this dinner was one of my greatest accomplishments so far, the dishes flowed seamlessly together, and the timing of the cooking and presentation worked perfectly, I was thrilled, and so were the 21 guests who shared the meal with Nico and myself.

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bringing out our third table for dinner.

The only hitch in the plan was finding seats for all of our friends. As usual, I invited more than I expected, and more people showed up than I figured. Our next door neighbor ran home to get an extra table, and we brought in chairs from every corner of the house, but in the end everyone had a seat! For the first time in Chez Nous Dinners history, we used three giant tables and hosted 21 for a sit down dinner!

I did, of course, more than enough food to feed everyone!

My Paul, who unfortunately couldn’t make this dinner,  was just telling me about weddings in Morocco. You send out invitations, but are not required to RSVP, and then you never know how many people will come. However, you don’t start eating until everyone arrives,  but again, you never know how many are going to come, so sometimes the eating does not begin until 3 in the morning! Crazy!

I suppose we ate in Moroccan tradition!

Below, I will talk about the meal we prepared and how it came together. Scroll down to the Game Plan to see how  I timed the cooking of all of the dishes so you can replicate our efforts at home!

First Course

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Proud to present the first course for our Moroccan Dinner.

Every large Moroccan meal starts with a Salad Course, we wanted to follow this tradition! Moroccan meals sometimes have upwards of a dozen salads, we served 7. I like to serve the salads with some Hobz, a simple Moroccan Tagine Bread, a big pad of butter, and a cup of honey. My favorite way to eat most of these salads are as a topping on top of a buttered piece of Hobz.  Make sure you bake the Hobz the same morning, it is a beautifully easy recipe! Most of these salads can be made a day or two before and stored in the fridge!

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Rainbow Chard, Roast Pepper, and Orange and Radish Salads in front of our Chicken Bastilla. Thanks to Paige for this photo!

The seven salads we created were a beautifully simple Grated Cucumber Salad and a Grated Carrot Salad, both of which only takes 15 minutes each to prepare and can be made several days in advance. These fresh grated salads are balanced by two gorgeously charred vegetable salads. The Roast Pepper Salad and Eggplant Zaalouk are made by roasting the vegetables directly on the flames of your stove top. A Rainbow Chard Salad is made by steaming and sautéing chard from my garden with some arugula and spices. The Roast Tomato and Pine Nut Salad ties with the Eggplant Zaalouk for my favorite. Tomatoes are sliced in half and slow roasted in the oven for three hours before being sprinkled with pine nuts and rose water. Delicious! I included one fruit salad to bring some more freshness to the evening, the Orange and Radish Salad is not only beautiful but wonderful with its citrusy zest.

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Hobz Tagine Breads and our Chicken Bastilla during our first course. Big thank you to my awesome neighbor Paige for this great photograph!

The Bastilla is an intricate savory (and yet still sweet) pastry that is generally served during wedding feasts in Fez. It is one of Morocco’s most prized pastries, I was so proud of figuring out how to properly make this dish. The dish is generally served between the Moroccan Salad Course and the Main Course, but we decided to serve it as part of the salad course.

Hobz – Moroccan Tagine Bread

Moroccan Salad Course – Part 1

  • Grated Cucumber Salad
  • Grated Carrot Salad
  • Roast Pepper Salad

Moroccan Salad Course – Part 2

  • Roast Tomato and Pine Nut Salad
  • Eggplant Zaalouk
  • Orange and Radish Salad
  • Rainbow Chard Salad

Bastilla of Fez with Chicken

Main Course

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The reality of our dinners… thanks to Gonzo Beck for this photo of me trying to document the main course while everyone patiently awaits.

I have been excited about this meal! I bought a hand built tagine (stay tuned for tagine recipes and guides!) and a beautiful Moroccan copper Couscousier. Everyone that knows me knows how much I love to cook on traditional copper and tin lined cookware, so, when I found out that the Moroccan couscous is traditionally cooked in a copper couscousier with tin lining, I had to find it! Even if I had to pay ridiculous shipping fees to import it from Marrakesh.

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Getting that couscous plated! Thank you so much to Gonzo Beck for this photo!

I created a beautiful Lamb and Duck Couscous and used the steam from cooking the broth to steam the couscous traditionally! I posted a photo of myself holding the couscous a few weeks ago and my instagram following exploded. Since then I have gotten many messages of congratulations, but just as many telling me that Couscous is not Moroccan. So to settle the waters, I do want to say that Couscous is a dish that is served in many countries in North Africa including Algeria, Tunisia, and Lybia, and is not exclusively Moroccan.

In addition to the Couscous, we served an incredibly delicious Tomato Chicken Tagine and a glorious and simple Baked Bass Stuffed with Almonds. We kept all of the breads and salads on the table for the main course to allow people to eat what they liked and soak up the sauces of the tagine with the bread.

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Lamb and Duck Couscous with Apricots

How to Steam Moroccan Couscous

Chicken and Honeyed Tomato Tagine – coming on Wednesday

Almond Stuffed Snapper or Bass– coming on Wednesday

Dessert

If you have any room left, by the time you get to a Moroccan dessert course, you will be served a platter of fruit and nuts with a variety of delicious pastries, rice, or couscous dishes. There is even a dessert couscous, but  I didn’t want to be repetitive!

I wanted to continue my obsession with almonds into the dessert course, and took advantage of having already made warqa dough for the Chicken Bastilla. I made a dish called M’hanncha and lovingly referred to as the Snake Cake. It is a delicate phyllo like pastry stuffed with sweetened almonds and orange essence, twisted into a spiral and baked to delicious result!

I also used almond milk, cardamom, and cinnamon sticks to slow cook a delicious rice pudding!

M’hanncha Snake Cake – coming on Thursday

Moroccan Rice Pudding – coming on Thursday

The Game Plan

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2 days before:

  • Make Warqa dough

1 day before:

11 am cook Warqa for Bastilla and Snake
Grill Bell Peppers (15 minutes)
11:30 am Grill Eggplant (20 minutes)
peel and slice peppers, drain for 1 hour
clean up stove top from grilling
12 pm finish Eggplant Zaalouk
put tomatoes into oven for 3 hours
12:30 pm finish bell peppers (10 minutes)
Cucumber Salad
Carrot Salad
1:30 – 2 pm Chard Salad
3 pm Bastilla – cook chicken (45 minutes)
Almond Mixture, Bastilla
Almond mixture, Snake Cake
4 pm Bastilla – egg mixture
4:15 pm Assemble Snake Cake
5 pm Bake Snake Cake
Rice Pudding
Tagine Marinade
Soak Chickpeas for Couscous

Day of:

1 pm Dough, tagine bread (rest 20 minutes)
Begin stew, Cousous
1:30 pm divide Dough, shape and rise (45 minute rise)
start couscous, hydrate
2 pm Steam couscous (20 minutes)
Boil Chickpeas for Couscous (20 minutes)
2:30 pm Begin glaze for Couscous (cook for 1 hour)
Bake Tagine bread (20 minutes)
Rake and 2nd steam couscous
3 pm Remove duck and lamb from broth, remove bones, cut up, put back
Add vegetables to broth (30 minutes)
Last step for glaze
3:30 pm Start Chicken Tagine
Prep salmon and put in fridge until appetizer course is served
5:30 pm Prepare Bastilla
6:00 pm Orange and Radish Salads
Finish and dress salads
6:30 pm Bake Bastilla
7 pm Guests Arrive
Serve First Course
Put fish in the oven (50 minutes)
7:45 pm Finish couscous
Warm Tagine
before dessert, warm rice pudding and the snake

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Referencing my precious recipe book. Thanks to Gonzo for this photo!

Enjoy!

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