Moroccan Tagine Berber

The ultimate fragrant Moroccan stew, a Tagine Berber is my idea of comfort food with aromatic meat served alongside big juicy pieces of vegetables.

It’s time for the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Group. This monthly group has for goal to help us discover the culture and cuisine of the countries found in these parts of the world. The host of the month will choose two savory and a sweet dish from the country and the members pick one dish to make. Get your camel ready as we are exploring Morocco this month with a traditional Tagine Berber.

Tagine Berber

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Vegetarian or Carnivore Options

I am starting to get more and more in the mood to host little dinner parties. Well occasionally so don’t expect an invite too soon (talking to my friends that read this lol). Recently we were a nice group of 6 at my place. Only problem is I had 2 vegetarians, 1 sustainable-only meat eater and 3 carnivores. What to make for dinner?

Couscous came to mind as a very versatile dish. And I have no problem with serving a vegetarian only meal but I wanted to have the option to serve meat to those who wanted some. I happen to have a pork roast already cooked in the fridge. For fake meat for the vegetarians I found a baked tofu recipe. It was a hit with all.

I have made many different kinds of couscous in life and they are all unique. This ones is up there on my list now with this roasted vegetable twist. Roasted veggies seem to pack extra flavor and the vegetable selection for a couscous is different. The usual carrots and rutabaga were replaced with belle peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.

I am already craving this dish again!

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Roasted Vegetable Couscous
Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • About 6 cups of veggies chopped into bite sized pieces (such as onions, mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, re-hydrated for 30 in hot water and drained
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce can) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1.5 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 C couscous

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place your veggies in a medium bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil. Salt and pepper.
  3. Place on baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes. (If using cherry tomatoes wait and add them to the baking sheet after about 20 minutes)
  4. Put veggies in a large pan. Add to veggies cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom and cayenne; saute 1-2 minutes. Add stock, and next 5 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.
Cuisine: Moroccan | Recipe Type: Main Course
7.6.3
223
http://cultureatz.com/roasted-vegetable-couscous-with-vegetarian-or-carnivore-options/

 

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Roasted veggies out of the oven

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Thin slices of pork roast for the carnivores

Ξ Baked Tofu slices Ξ

Slice a block of tofu into 9 slices. Place them on a double layer of paper towels and place another double layer over them. Press firmly with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet or oil a long, rectangular baking dish. Brush one side of each slice of tofu with a thin layer of sauce and place it on the pan sauce-side down. Spread remaining sauce on the tops and sides of the tofu. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until tofu is firm and just beginning to brown at the corners.

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Moroccan Cinnamon Chicken with Couscous and Dried Fruit

I am currently away on vacation for a week. Here is a little post I prepared ahead of time.

In mid march, five friends of mine and I rented a cottage for the weekend up north. I had planned the menu with Johanne; one dinner was to be a Couscous. Well we were so busy or had lunch so late we never made the couscous. I volunteered to bring the ingredients home to freeze and have everyone over for dinner. The very Sunday I got back is when I broke my wrist. Also one of my friends was away for a couple of months working in Guatemala. Fast forward three and a half months, we finally had the Couscous dinner.

I made one crucial change to the recipe. Instead of browning and baking the chicken I grilled on the BBQ. Johanne made it on her own as per the recipe. The grilled version was unique and had great flavor but if you bake it in the oven the chicken will  be a bit more moist and flavorful. Why not try both ways! Oh I have to say I found the leftovers better then when served right after making it.

Ξ Cinnamon Chicken with Couscous and Dried Fruit Ξ
from Epicurious, originally from Bon Appétit | December 2005

Ingredients
4 whole chicken legs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup mixed chopped dried fruit (such as currants, apricots, and prunes)
1 14-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
1 cup couscous
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint, divided

 

My BBQ Chicken version

Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ginger. Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces, skin side down, and cook until skin is brown, about 8 minutes. Turn chicken and transfer skillet to oven. Roast chicken until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; tent with foil.

Add onion to drippings in same skillet; sauté onion over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add dried fruit and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ginger; stir to coat. Add broth; bring to boil. Remove skillet from heat, stir in couscous and 1 teaspoon mint. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Season couscous to taste with salt and pepper.

Mound couscous on platter; place chicken atop couscous. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon mint and serve. Makes 4 servings.

The Last CEE Dinner on Meetup

Do you know how this blog got started? No it was not a need to share my baking skills with the world but a dinner group. On March 11th, 2007 I started a group on Meetup.com called Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Meetup allows people to start a group on what ever you want and then fellow meetup members can join and go to events the organizer sets up. My first organized event was 6 days later on March 17th, 2007. We were 3 people only. It was fun but I thought for sure this was going to be a short lived group with such attendance.

After 6 months I decided to start this blog to write reviews of the restaurants we attended as a group and over time it has grown into so much more. Well a year passed and the group grew, a lot. By the time we celebrated the 2nd anniversary there were about 250 members we had a huge party where 85 people from the group showed up. I was beyond astounded and overwhelmed by emotions that night.

Three years passed and we had another big party, although not quite as big. The 3rd anniversary was also our 75th event. For 3 years my volunteer assistants (Sharon, Olivier, Agustin, Johanne, Toni) and I have planned at least 2 event per month at a reasonably priced ethnic food restaurant. Montreal has no shortage of those. I could not have done it without the help of my fabulous assistants. Thank you.

Now after 3 years and a half and 88 events I have decided to hang up my organizer hat and close the group on meetup. I have met amazing people along the way, some cookie ones too, and I have made amazing friends too. Why am I closing. Life moves on and I just felt it was time to stop. I  love it but I need t move on. It was a really hard decision to make. I had the farewell dinner this Oct 12th 2010 at the Salon Mogador with 27 members.

I chose this Moroccan restaurant which we had been to in Jan 2008. It had been a huge success and I thought the couches and low tables made it ideal for eating, schmoozing and relaxing for the last dinner. We 4 different salads, a veggie couscous, a veal couscous and a chicken tajine with lemon and olives, baklava for dessert. Mint tea flowed all night. Thank you to Dourid of Salon Mogador for organizing the event for us.

My amazing friend Aurora..who now is the only reining Queen Organizer on Meetup in Montreal… had everyone pitch in for a special surprise for me. They got me one of those huge cards that everyone signed and a bouquet of Felix & Norton cookies. Have you ever had there cookies. I actually though they no longer existed but apparently the do and they have the best cookies. It was an emotional moment.

Pics by me and Bernard Reischl

Now don’t you worry this blog is going nowhere. This blog is my passion. As far a s dinners I am not done organizing some. I am assistant organizer now on another group which will allow me to organize meals once in a while. But first a rest. And I am toying with the idea of setting up a private, more exclusive, dinner group right here on my website. So keep your eyes peeled for possible future announcements.

But for now it is a Goodbye to the dinner group that started this entire whirlwind foodie adventure. Thank you so much to all the past members that ever joined and participated in a dinner. You have all taught me so much, touched and changed my life forever. Thank you! XOXOX

High Tea Afternoon + Contest 75$ gift certificate

EXTRA, EXTRA…we have a fabulous give away with CSN Stores: a $75.00 one-time use gift code to any of their sites. You can redecorate your entire house with their 200+ stores, from a dog bed, to a new dish set, an ottoman coffee table, or even a fountain for the garden . See bottom of post for details!

Please cast you vote for me to be the next food blog star! Just click to vote for my 3rd entry here. Thank you! Voting ends October 7th 6pm PST, hurry!

On the last dinner with the CEE dinner group I met a new member and we really hit it off on a possible friendship level. She also seemed to be quite the foodie and said she worked as a concierge in a hotel downtown. As a concierge she often gets free invites to restaurants or other cultural outings so she can then reference hotel guests if she likes the place. So when she sent me an email asking if I would like to accompany her at such an event I jumped at the chance.

We went for a complimentary High Tea service at Le Maitre Chocolatier at 3 o’clock. This place is centrally located on the elegant part of Sherbrooke Street close to the museums and shopping areas.

The small first floor is the shop. Here you can buy fine classic style chocolates and wonderful teas. All the chocolates are made in house by the owner, Nada, a young Moroccan lady. The staff was perfectly polite, perfect attentive service and very friendly without overstepping the personal boundaries. Shaun (I think) was the tea connoisseur and wonderful to chat with.

If you go up the stairs you will find the lovely English style tea room. There will be a new addition very shortly to the menu but there are several available services such as the breakfast tea, a scones and tea service, a full tea service as we had, and soon added a Moroccan version with that country’s specialties. I WILL have to go back for that one. Also there are sometimes small classical music concerts held here.

After being seated the waiter presented us with a box of all the teas being offered. All teas were in round canisters, labeled, that we could open them up to smell the tea. I really loved this concept. We had a good idea of what we wanted but if you are not familiar the staff will assist you in choosing the right teas for you. We chose 3 over the course of our afternoon: Anis Black Tea, Green tea with Orange Blossom and Roobos (a red tea). All were excellent.

Here is a our full service as a cup of tea is being poured for us. Never do we pour our own tea.

We started off with the bottom row of sandwiches. I have a sweet tooth and tea sandwiches are relatively simple so it was my least favorite yet all was excellent. The selection included a salmon rillettes toast, a tomato and pepper sandwich, my favorite one the Asian pear and blue cheese sandwich, and the quintessential cucumber sandwich. The bread used was lovely and dense, not flimsy white bread.

Next level was the scones. There were 4 in total: 2 plain, 1 blueberry and 1 raspberry. These were served with a beautiful selection of jams and a homemade crême fraiche which was divine. The scones were delicious and not too heavy but definitely filling. Thank god I did not have lunch and was starving. My tea companion and I split the fruit ones in two so we got to taste everything. I wish I could take home a bucket of that crême fraiche.

And finally, the pièce de résistence, the sweet top level. We each had 5 different sweets to try. Not sure what one cake was but had apricot in it I think, one was a chocolate marzipan combo, then 2 macarons each and a house chocolate truffle. What a great way to end this experience.

I am not sure how much this service goes for, I believe around 20 or 30$. If you have never had a tea service I highly recommend the experience, it is a great outing with the girls. I know of some expensive hotels that offer such a service but I really liked it here as it was small and quaint. Surprisingly there was a quiet but constant flow of customers. Oh and great for a different kind of date with your beau. Let me know if you go!

Le Maitre Chocolatier

1612, Sherbrooke Ouest
Montréal (Québec) H3H 1C9
(514) 544-9475

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CSN Stores $75.00 gift code Contest, to enter

  1. Leave a comment in this post telling me what is your favorite afternoon snack.
  2. Tweet about the giveaway, copy paste…1 entry per day
    @cheapethniceatz CONTEST Win a $75 Gift certificate http://cultureatz.com/high-tea-afternoon/
  3. Posting on Facebook does NOT count, sorry.
  4. This contest is only open to the US and Canada.

Good luck! Giveaway ends Oct 12th 2010 at midnight EST!