MOROCCAN DINNER PARTY

Photography by Katie McGihon

When you step through the front entrance of Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs, you are greeted by a courtyard that could just as easily be located in Morocco, with a gorgeous fountain laden with floating Bougainvillea blooms, a hand-carved, keyhole-shaped wooden door, and lush citrus and olive trees, oleander bushes and date palms. The boutique hotel property was originally built in 1924 as a hideaway for Scottish painter Gordon Coutts, with Coutts recreating his past life in Tangier through Moroccan-inspired architectural features and décor.

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We drew inspiration from Korakia for a dinner party concept, tasking a few talented local folks with helping us create a memorable menu and setting that will transport you to another time and place. We set the scene at Korakia starting with a base of a beautiful vintage Beni Ourani rug from Soukie Modern, under a handcrafted wood table from Planks and Patina. Studio Kate Floral created a lush centerpiece and smaller satellite arrangements of multicolored florals, featuring blooms like poppies, ranunculus and hydrangea, with an abundance of vintage brass candlesticks running down the center of the table. Vintage Moroccan wedding blankets and pillows, also from Soukie Modern, cover a wooden daybed to create a comfortable and chic lounge area.

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Chef Gavin Grabe of Clementine in Palm Desert is sharing all of his delicious Moroccan-inspired recipes to help you easily recreate the party in your own home, including Gavin’s Chicken Tagine, Casablanca Cucumber Salad, Moroccan Jewel Couscous, Pea and Sorrel Summer Salad and Roasted Butternut, Pomegranate and Ricotta Salad. We’ve also included a Moroccan tea-inspired cocktail, as well as a favor to send home with your guests: their own jar of preserved lemons, which serve as an important ingredient in many Moroccan dishes.

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LOCATION: Korakia Pensione // 257 S. Patencio Road, Palm Springs, korakia.com

PHOTOGRAPHY: Katie McGihon // katiemcgihon.com

MENU: Chef Gavin Grabe of Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe // 72990 El Paseo, Palm Desert, clementineshop.com

FLORAL DESIGN: Studio Kate Floral // studiokatefloral.com

FURNITURE & BAR: Planks and Patina // planksandpatina.com

VINTAGE RUGS, BLANKETS, PILLOWS & TEA SET: Soukie Modern // 1345 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, soukiemodern.com

VINTAGE WINE GLASSES & FRUIT BOWL: Flow Modern  // 768 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, flowmodern.com

PLATES & NAPKINS: World Market // 2465 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, worldmarket.com

FLATWARE: West Elm // westelm.com

 

RECIPES:

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GAVIN’S CHICKEN TAGINE
Serves 8
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours (plus rest time overnight)

Marinade:

3 tablespoons     olive oil (divided)
2 pounds              chicken pieces (about one chicken)
2 teaspoons        paprika
1/4 teaspoon      ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon      ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon      cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon          ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon      ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon      ground cardamom
1 teaspoon          kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon      ground ginger
3 pinches             saffron
3/4 teaspoon     garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon     ground coriander

Tagine mix:

2 medium            onions – cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cloves                garlic – minced
1 tablespoon      freshly grated ginger
1                             preserved lemon, zested (recipe below)
1 (14.5 ounce)    can of chicken stock broth (can use low-sodium)
1 can                     chopped peeled tomato
1 can                     chickpeas
6                             dried apricots
6                             dried prunes
1 tablespoon      honey
1 tablespoon      cornstarch (optional)
1 tablespoon      water (optional)

  1. Place diced chicken pieces in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and set aside. In a large saucepan, dry roast the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, ginger, saffron, garlic powder, and coriander until medium roasted (about 4 minutes) and mix well. Add the chicken to a bowl, add the spices and toss around to coat well. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. To make tagine, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of the chicken and brown well. Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining chicken. Add onions to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh garlic and ginger; continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and stir in the lemon zest, chicken broth, tomato and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, add the chickpeas and dried fruit, cover, and simmer for 1 -1.5 hrs, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.
  3. If the consistency of the tagine is too thin, you may thicken it with a mixture of cornstarch and water during the last 5 minutes.

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CASABLANCA CUCUMBER SALAD
Serves 4

1 ½ pounds        Persian cucumbers, in 1/4″ slices
1 cup                    low fat yogurt
3 tablespoons   dill, chopped
3 tablespoons   mint, chopped
1/4 cup                sun blush tomatoes, red, yellow or mixed (available for purchase at Clementine)
1/2 cup                lemon confit (available for purchase at Clementine or make with the recipe below)
1 teaspoon         sumac
Optional:            pine nuts, sour cream, roasted garlic

  1. Combine the cucumbers (if you cannot find Persian cucumbers, use English cucumbers and cut them into quarters), yoghurt, chopped herbs, lemon confit and tomatoes together in a bowl, season to taste.
  2. Serve garnished with a few leaves and tomatoes on top.
  3. For added crunch, toast some pine nuts and sprinkle on top. Add sour cream or roasted garlic for a little extra decadence!

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LEMON CONFIT

Moroccan cuisine uses lemon confit in many dishes and it will keep for a month in the refrigerator; just take it out an hour before use for the oil to liquify again, as extra virgin oil hardens in the refrigerator.

Yield: 1 cup
Total time: 5 min

2                          lemons
1/4 cup              extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Slice whole lemons into very thin slices (remove any pits). Add the olive oil and season.

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JEWEL COUSCOUS
Serves 4
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

2                                     onions, sliced
4 tablespoons            olive oil
1/2 cup                         coconut, shredded and toasted
1 cup                             couscous
2                                     oranges – rind and juice
pinch                             saffron strands
1/2 cup                         pistachios, toasted
1/4 cup                         extra virgin olive oil
pinch                             ancho chili powder
4 tablespoons            parsley, chopped
1/4 bunch                   cilantro, rough chopped
1/16 cup                      dried apricots
1/16 cup                      pitted prunes
1/16 cup                      dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups                   good quality chicken stock
pinch                            curry powder

  1. Saute onions until caramelized and golden (about 5-6 minutes), then set aside.
  2. Toast coconut by placing in an oven at 350F for about 5 minutes, then set aside.
  3. Place couscous in a flat, oven-safe dish.
  4. Slice apricots, cranberries and prunes and crush the pistachios, and then add all to the couscous.
  5. Add orange rind and juice to couscous.
  6. Add the cooled onion, chopped parsley, olive oil, curry powder and chili powder to the couscous.
  7. Combine saffron and chicken stock in a pot and bring to boil, then pour over couscous.
  8. Swirl the dish and then immediately cover with plastic wrap so that it can steam. Leave it for about 10 minutes until it is soft.
  9. Using a fork, fluff the couscous and then transfer to another dish, garnish with the cilantro and toasted coconut and serve. This dish is great served the next day as a chilled salad.

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PEA AND SORREL SUMMER SALAD

3 cups                    peas; raw or you can use frozen (defrost prior to use)
1/2 pound             chopped sorrel
1/8 cup                  whole mustard seeds
1/4 cup                  white wine vinegar
1/2 bunch             chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon           chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon       chili powder
1/4 cup                  canola oil
1 bunch                 sliced scallions

Combine all ingredients together and season to taste.

This salad can be eaten after it has rested for two hours, but it is best eaten the next day. You can use extra virgin olive oil if you prefer, but it may overpower the fresh flavors of the peas and sorrel.

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“B.P.R.” SALAD
(aka Roasted Butternut, Pomegranate and Ricotta Salad)

Serves 4

1                              large butternut squash
1/2 cup                  grapeseed oil
1                              pomegranate
1                              preserved lemon, zested (recipe above)
1/4 cup                  extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup                  ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons     honey
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Peel the butternut and cut into 1/4 “ squares.
  2. Coat in grapeseed oil, season to taste and place on a lined baking sheet and roast in oven at 350F for about 40 minutes until soft but not mushy.
  3. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool.
  4. When the squash has cooled completely, toss in a bowl with olive oil, honey and lemon zest.
  5. Place in serving dish and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and dot with ricotta.

TIP: To remove the seeds form the pomegranate with ease, run your knife around the belly to just cut the skin. Break in half. Use a wooden spoon or large cooking spoon and tap the domed skin of the pomegranate and the seed will start to drop, leaving the white pith behind.

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PRESERVED LEMONS

These lemons are a staple ingredient in many Moroccan dishes; send your dinner party guests home with their own a jar as a useful treat.

Meyer lemons (or Eureka; organic recommended), 3 to 4 lemons per pint-sized jar
Salt
Boiled and cooled water

  1. Clean the lemons thoroughly. Organic lemons are recommended, as it is the skin that will be consumed.
  2. Trim the ends off of both end of each lemon.
  3. Cut each lemon into quarters, but only slice part way down so that one end is intact with the slices attached.
  4. Put one teaspoon of salt into the bottom of each jar.
  5. Fill the center of each sliced lemon with a teaspoon of sale and place into the jar, cut side down, squeezing it into the jar to extract the lemon juice. Repeat, stacking the lemons in the jar until it is full.
  6. Add the juice of one additional lemon to each jar. Liquid should be to about the halfway point of the jar.
  7. Pour the boiled, cooled water into the jar to fill it to the top.
  8. Put lid on the jars and let sit at room temperature for 3 days, shaking the jar a few times per day. After 3 days, put the jars in the refrigerator and let sit for at least 3 weeks before using. Preserved lemons will keep for about 6 months in the refrigerator.

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MOROCCAN MINT TEA COCKTAIL
Serves 4

2 cups                   Moroccan Mint Tea, brewed and cooled completely, sweetened to taste.
4 tablespoons    lime juice (Rose’s or fresh)
1 cup                     vodka
1 handful             fresh mint leaves
ice cubes

  1. Brew tea, cool completely and sweeten to taste.
  2. Add ice and mint leaves to cocktail shaker; shake to bruise mint leaves.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and shake to combine.
  4. Pour into a Moroccan tea glass.

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