3 Jun 2012

Moroccan Family Feast

Yesterday was a busy day around here. The kind of busy-ness that can only come with the under 5's. My brother and sister-in-law are about to move and have a lot of packing to do. Apparently little Miss 2 and big Mr 4 are not the most helpful packers in the world - who would have guessed! So they came here for the day and their parents packed furiously and then came here to join them for dinner. Chaos and cuteness ensued. It poured with rain from the moment they arrived so all backyard and park plans evaporated and lots of toys, games, puzzles and leaping off furniture occurred. 
In amongst that (and when their parents arrived) we cooked a moroccan-ish dinner to share. It was inspired by the pomegranate sitting in my fruit bowl (which is strangely still there!!!)


The meal was a number of different dishes down the middle of the table to cater for all the different tastes, ages (2 - 40ish) and dietary requirements (celiac, vegetarian and meat lovers) and everyone self served.


Roast Free-range Chicken with preserved lemon and ras-el-hanout marinade.
Roast Hard Tofu with preserved lemon and ras-el-hanout marinade.
Haloumi, chickpea, Kale & tomato stew
Roast Sweet Potato & Asparaus
Roasted Cauliflower with apple, Red Onion and balsamic vinegar 
Pearl Cous Cous with flame raisins and pistachios
Greek Yoghurt with lemon & cumin


I think we found something for everyone in there. The recipes and notes about where each dish came from are detailed below.


Roast Free-range Chicken with preserved lemon and ras-el-hanout marinade.
The chicken was based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. I simplified a little. It was very tasty and a satisfying brown when it came out.

Ingredients
  • 3 Preserved lemon halves (I keep some in the fridge I made years ago from Stephanie Alexanders "The Cooks Companion" Cookbook)
  • 1 Tb of Ras-El-Hanout (I didn't have any so made up a tablespoon of Cumin, Corriander, Chilli, Clove, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Turmeric and Cinnamon roughly in the proportions I like them)
  • 2 Tb olive oil (colavita)
  • 1.8kg free range chicken

Method 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 
2. Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon and discard. Chop the lemon rind into fine dice
3. Bash together the lemon and ras-el-hanout into a paste using a pestle and mortar. 
4. Stir the oil into the lemon mix. 
5. Rub  the marinade into the chicken.
6. Roast for about 80 min.

Roast Hard Tofu with preserved lemon and ras-el-hanout marinade.

We made this variation up, based on great plain roasted tofu my Aunt served up last weekend as part of a family buffet. It worked well.

Ingredients
  • 1 Preserved lemon half (I keep some in the fridge I made years ago from Stephanie Alexanders "The Cooks Companion" Cookbook)
  • 1 teaspoon of Ras-El-Hanout (I didn't have any so made up a tablespoon of Cumin, Corriander, Chilli, Clove, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Turmeric and Cinnamon roughly in the proportions I like them)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (colavita)
  • 400g pack hard tofu 
Method 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 
2. Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon and discard. Chop the lemon rind  into fine dice
3. Bash together the lemon and ras el hanout using a pestle and mortar. 
4. Stir the oil into the lemon mix. 
5. Rub  the marinade into the tofu.
6. Roast for about 15 min.
Haloumi, Chickpea, Kale & Tomato Stew
This recipe was found on one of my favourite blogs - Finski's - (I know Bella & Blondie a little through the  school I work at.) They called it Spiced Chickpeas and Haloumi. I changed it a little to fit what I had. This was surprisingly easy and I think we will have it with Brown Rice or Cous Cous and yoghurt as a fairly regular weeknight dinner over winter.

Ingredients

2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp fennel seeds 
400g chickpeas – rinsed and drained
200g cypriot-style haloumi cheese – cut into 1-2 cm chunks
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
400g can cherry tomatoes in juice
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 bunch of Black Kale, stalks removed, leaves shredded (You could use silverbeet)
Method

1. Blanch the kale very briefly until it is just slightly wilted. You want the leaves to hold some texture. Drain and wash under cold water to set the fabulous green colour. Set aside for later.


2. In a sauce pan heat the oil, then brown the garlic, cumin, fennel seeds and chilli until fragrant. 
3. Add drained chickpeas and haloumi and cook stirring for 2-3 minutes so that the spices infuse through.
4. Add the tomato paste, brown sugar and canned tomatoes with the juice. Season with salt and pepper and simmer very gently for another 3-5 minutes.
5. Just before serving add in the blanched Kale, cook for another 1-2 minutes until warmed through.




Roasted Cauliflower with apple, Red Onion and balsamic vinegar 
I found this by Google, having wanted to try a roasted cauliflower dish, but the one that had inspired me was not at all Moroccan. This was on a blog called Family Favourite Foods . It isn't so Morroccan either, but I have a glut of apples and plenty of red onions and dried cranberries so I gave it a try. As I was cooking so may things in the oven I had to do this at a lower temperature. I think the higher temperature would have improved it.
Ingredients
1 cauliflower, core removed and separated into florets
1/2 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch think slices
1 large unpeeled apple, cored and coarsely diced
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dried cranberries or currants
1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
1 Tb Balsamic vinegar 
Method
  • Preheat the oven to hot - 230C degrees.
  • Toss the cauliflower, onion, apple, olive oil, and salt together in a baking dish and spread out into a single layer.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the edges of the cauliflower begin to brown.
  • Add the cranberries/currants and continue to bake for about 10 minutes longer, stirring halfway through.
  • Remove from the oven, toss through balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Pearl Couscous with flame raisins and pistachios
I found this pearl couscous next to the regular couscous at the supermarket and thought I'd try it. Mia had ordered something similar at a Middle-eastern restaurant a few months ago (though it had a different name I can't recall) and loved it. Well, I'm so glad I did - everyone loved it and we'll definitely do it again.

Ingredients
250g packet Gourmet Pearl Couscous. (Mine was a Blu brand box)
1 small onion
1 Tb olive oil
2 cups of vegetable stock
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup flame raisins

Method
  • saute the onion in the oil
  • stir the couscous through the onion until lightly browned
  • add stock, salt and pepper
  • cover pot and simmer for 8-10 min stirring a few times
  • remove from heat, stir through pistachios and raisins

I did this quickly and it was good - but I think lemon or orange zest, pommegranite seeds, many dry spices and fresh corriander, parsley or mint would be fabulous through this too and will vary it next time. 

Greek Yoghurt with lemon & cumin
I simply stirred 2 teaspoons of cumin, juice of 1/2 a lemon and a tiny bit of sugar through a cup of greek yoghurt and put it in small bowls at each end of the table.

We had a great relaxed meal, full of flavour and news. We finished with an apple and cardamom cake that Mia very patiently made with big Mr 4 (and even some stirring assistance from little Miss 2). There's a good chance that recipe may finish up on The Little Blue Bicycle sometime soon (when she gets past a homework mountain which she's currently climbing)

Now I have added the photos I see this is something I have to seriously work on. A couple of poor light iphone snaps as everything hit the table all at once looks really disappointing now I look at them. Oh Well - I'll just have to hope my words have painted the remainder of the picture and to allow more time (or enlist family help) next time!!!
Nicola 

5 comments:

  1. What a wonderful feast! I really like the sound of that halloumi stew as I adore halloumi :D

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  4. Thanks for your comment and welcome! Nic

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  5. YUMMY!! What a lovely recipe.. LOVE this.. Stopping in via Thee Networking Blog Hop! Officially a happy follower here with smiles.. Excited to indulge more and look around a bit. Hope you will stop in and visit my blog as well ~ Very lovely and inspiring space here.. Wishing you a beautiful start to your week.. xo ~ Marilyn( hop co-host) via http://www.theartsygirlconnection.com ..

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