Monday, 24 May 2010

Moroccan Girls Night In

I had my girlfriends round the Friday before the jewellery class for a girls night in - we've had a couple of disappointing meals out recently and I pointed out that I thought for a fiver a head I could do a better job than the professionals - and, all modesty aside, I reckon I pretty much did ;-)


I went for a Moroccan theme on the whole, a regular favourite of mine and a good cuisine style to try if you want to spend more time with your guests than you do in the kitchen.  We started with a mezze of hot and cold dips, with herby pitta chips.   We had hummus, coriander and lime honeyed yoghurt, roasted beetroot and cumin dip, a spicy walnut and roasted red pepper dip, all cold and my take on Moutabel, served warm, but using small cubes of fried aubergine rather than the pulp from whole roasted ones as I find their texture unpalatable.  I simply fry them in olive oil with cumin and harissa and add finely grated lemon zest (a microplane works wonders here!) and lots of chopped fresh parsley to finish.

For the main course I made my signature lamb feta filo pie, which is essentially a mixture of Moroccan spiced minced lamb with red peppers, apricots and sultanas, with a layer of spinach, feta and pine nuts encased in either filo pastry or fuille de brick.  I served this with harrisa and pumpkin seed oil roasted potatoes tossed with rocket and a refreshing Moroccan carrot salad which is just grated carrot with a dressing of olive oil, cumin, orange juice and zest, honey and/or orange flower water with parsley, coriander and sliced black olives.  We were all eager to tuck in so I forgot to do an untouched close up shot - sorry!

For dessert, I had ambitious plans of finally using my Christmas present - a much hinted at molecular gastronomy kit - but it was a work night and I had been at work all day and having spent 2 hours the night before failing miserably to make rhubarb curls, I just had to admit defeat and scale down my plans....

I served a seasonal, and particularly un-Moroccan rhubarb verrine - apparently that's the de rigueur term for something "layered" in a glass - I know - how did we possibly reach 2010 without a specific word for such a dessert ;-)  This was basically, a layer of rhubarb fool at the bottom, with a layer or orange roasted rhubarb compote, and then a layer of crushed raffia biscuits for a little crunch and texture, topped, thanks to my birthday present of an ISI Espuma a very quick and easy elderflower mousse.  My plan had been to use some of the roasted rhubarb juice and my MSK kit to create rhubarb caviar through spherification - but I just ran out of time - I even asked that lovely man Alex who didn't quite win MasterChef this year if I could do it ahead of time - and thanks to the power of Twitter he graciously replied, but alas, it has to be done at the last minute or the process continues and you get a bowl full of jelly!  So I used what bits of curls I could rescue from the sticky mess that had once been a non-stick baking sheet, topped them off and with a nod to Heston and the 80's I sprinkled them with a packet of strawberry popping candy...

As it turns out - the candy was the bit the girls enjoyed the most - so next time ladies - you're all just getting a pack each!!!!

We finished off the evening with a few games of "just dance" on the wii - which you can see brought a few laughs - and not so visibly, a broken floorboard.............

Now the sun is shining I'm starting to think about this years BBQ party - are you ready girls?


  1. An excellent night was had by all! Fantastic food, hilarious dancing and wonderful friends - what more could a girl want!

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