It was a hot and humid Sunday afternoon in Perth that became a beautiful, balmy summer evening. The perfect setting for an amazing Middle Eastern inspired feast thrown together by the lovely Laura from Laura’s Mess, Matt from Inspired Food and myself.
I met Matt and Laura at Eat.Drink.Blog13 last year and we have been catching up for dinners/breakfasts ever since. It was only a matter of time before this happened… This was the easiest dinner party I have ever held. A shared Facebook message, a theme suggestion, dish offerings, a date and venue and what ensued was a spectacular array of food shared between three food bloggers and their respective other halves (mine currently being my sister…)
Three things I learned at our Moroccan Table:
*Foodies make the best friends. There was so much warmth and generosity radiating from this incredible spread of food! We are six people who are only just getting to know each other through our genuine love of all things food or food loving significant other. Never a lull in conversation!
*There is a lot to be said for friends, partners and family of food bloggers whose blessed patience I am eternally grateful for. They taste our experiments, they wait for the photography session to be over before eating, they give honest feedback and then bear the grunt of our (OK fine, my) inability to take constructive criticism well. So thank you to the three A’s on Sunday night – Aaron, Alexis and Alyssa for putting up with our foodie quirks!
*Food appreciation is not to be underestimated! There is nothing more heart warming than people enjoying your food. Yes, I already knew this but it is nights like these spent with people like these that truly brings the message home.
Of course, I had to have new plates to coordinate with our Moroccan theme. It must be the interior stylist in me.
And cute, economical table decorations. I would rather spend money on quality produce and challenge my creative decorating side (plus, I admit, I was pushed for time…). I had grand plans of fairy lights and fabric but they will have to wait for another day!
Laura was first up with the appetizers; she prepared incredible, authentic Moroccan dips that not only tasted amazing but looked absolutely gorgeous! The first of the two was a split pea bessara dip, with the second being burnt eggplant and tahini dip, topped with gorgeous, glistening pomegranate – fast becoming my favourite addition to everything summer inspired! Brookfarm‘s Macadamia oil worked a treat on top, also adding to that beautiful glistening effect, along with some aromatic Sumac and fresh herbs.
Of course, she also made some Khobz (Moroccan flatbreads) to serve these delicious dips on! This girl just exudes all-things-food-related talent! The bread was dense and worked perfectly with the dips and the six of us made very short work of demolishing the platter! The eggplant dip was definitely my favourite – the way that the pomegranate just popped in your mouth adding a fresh element to such a creamy dip was amazing. You can head over to her post about our feast HERE to check out the recipes for your next gathering!
Sometimes coincidence is a wonderful thing! During the week leading up to our feast, MiNDFOOD delivered their daily recipe to my inbox and it just happened to be an Apple Cider and Elderflower Cocktail. Sounds like the perfect starter drink to me!
Matt and I delivered the main courses. I decided to create a Moroccan inspired Quinoa salad. I’m not really sure how authentic this is but it is full of flavour combinations that I love and feel work really well together. It worked out beautifully and I was thrilled with the results! It truly was a celebration of colour and texture. You can check out the recipe HERE (as I am sure this post is going to be long enough on it’s own)!
A glorious combination of Moroccan spiced roasted pumpkin, goats feta, spinach, mint, parsley, coriander, nuts, seeds, pomegranate and quinoa tossed in a lemon juice, evoo and rosewater dressing. Flavours that dance!
Side note: I recently made my own vegetable stock concentrate and have frozen it in ice cube trays! I will never buy stock or stock powder again!!
My second dish was a Chicken and Date Tagine – something that really doesn’t photograph well but tastes delicious. It is a recipe I picked up at the Cooking Professor’s Moroccan Feast cooking class last year. A great class and fantastic evening that I would recommend to anyone! The chicken is marinated in a delicious home made chermoula for hours! Then, imagine whole chicken thighs slow cooked and as tender as can be, melting in your mouth amongst a happy combination of rich, semi-sweet spiced sauce.
It wouldn’t be complete without something to soak up the sauce so I threw together a chickpea, almond and goji berry couscous to accompany it.
Unfortunately, as this was not my recipe, I don’t feel like it would be right to share it. It has inspired me to start making my own pastes, so watch this space for some Tagine recipe development in the very near future! If you would like a simple marinade for chicken, please check out my recipe here!
Moving onto Matt’s creations… Moroccan Lamb Meatball Stew with Harissa Yoghurt and a gorgeous Orange and Olive salad. So simple, so effective! As soon as the stew started bubbling away, the paprika took over from the cinnamon coming from the tagine and if closed my eyes I could almost imagine being in Morocco (I have never been but this is what I imagine it would be!) The addition of the yoghurt was beautiful and I’m not sure whether this is what Matt intended but I really enjoyed the orange and the meatball together! Very interesting combination!
What a spread! What a feast! THE EPITOME OF SUMMER – Friends around the al fresco dining table, beers, food. Since it’s Australia Day today, I’m feeling nostalgic – In the words of Ganggajang “Out on the patio we sit … This is Australia”.
Dessert. Dessert, dessert. Where do I start? This is a big call coming from a self confessed chocoholic; I would happily give up chocolate if I could eat this every night of the week. Laura delivered not one, but TWO types of ice-cream! Rose and pistachio and orange blossom and cardamon, served with an almond and pistachio shortbread, rose petals and sugared mint. Creamy, smooth ice-cream, crunchy shortbread providing the perfect textural element and the mint that cut through the sweetness with a fresh ‘zing’! I am so impressed, Laura! I strongly suggest you head over to her Moroccan Table wrap up HERE for the recipes!
I can’t wait for our next adventure together! Laura and I have decided on a Spanish Tapas theme – which may or may not be news to Matt. I am so grateful to have friends like these! Their cooking talent is amazing and I feel like I am just barely keeping up, trying to ‘fake it ’til I make it’ in their esteemed company!
To Matt and Laura: Thank you for your inspiration and company guys, it was our absolute pleasure to have you! I can’t wait to read your posts and I am looking forward to the next challenge we set ourselves!