Monthly Archives: April 2016

Dinner Party Menu: French Moroccan Meal

April 26, 2016

True to textbook definition, I am a non-confrontational person. So when presented with the tangled complication of French-Moroccan relations, I choose to take the easier route: a dinner party menu that melds Moroccan cuisine with French beverages.

The Menu

Pernod Ricard

Main Dishes
Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots
Cous Cous with Fresh Herbs
Moroccan-Style Carrots

Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône

Pomegranate Sorbet

Dinner Party Menu: French Moroccan Meal |

It’s not very Moroccan to drink alcohol, so I chose a French aperitif for this dinner party menu. Pernod Ricard is pastis, which is an anise-flavored liquor that mildly tastes like black licorice. You typically pour a finger or two into a glass and add water until it’s a light yellow color. Ice is optional. The semi-sweet taste goes perfectly with the salty, roasted pistachios.

Dinner Party Menu: French Moroccan Meal |

Just like the beet bourguignon from the last dinner party menu, making the tagine a day ahead improves the flavor and also frees up time the day of your dinner party. The combination of sweet and savory in this recipe will blow your mind. If you’re not crazy about lamb, you can swap it out for chuck roast beef or chicken thighs.

Dinner Party Menu: French Moroccan Meal |

Pair the tagine with a simple cous cous. Just cook the cous cous according to the instructions on the box and add freshly chopped parsley, cilantro, and mint. The Moroccan-Style Carrots are a breeze to make and its bright, clean flavor really pops against the complicated, depth of the tagine.

To wash it all down, we choose a good cheap French Côtes du Rhône wine that is $7.99 at Trader Joe’s. It’s red, full-bodied, and is a nice easy-going sidekick to the spicy flavors of Moroccan food. If you can’t find a good Côtes, you could drink a Rioja, and if you make the chicken tagine, a Sauvignon Blanc or a French rosé would be a great choice.

And finally, dessert! Ask your guests to bring a small tub of pomegranate sorbet (or whatever the store has in stock) and you’ll have the perfect ending to this French-Moroccan meal.

Bon appétit!

Taking Care of Cast Iron Skillets

April 9, 2016

Taking Care of Cast Iron Skillets |

There is a myth out there that cast iron needs to be coddled within an inch of its life. Never clean with soap! Only scrub with salt! Slather it in lard and put it in an oven for 24 hours! The list is long and complicated, and has scared many cooks away. However, the truth is that it’s all a farce. These things are workhorses and it’s super easy to take care of them.

If you are reading this, you are probably already own one. But in the off chance you don’t, let me take a moment to praise the mighty ways of the cast iron skillet.

First of all, they retain heat like crazy, which makes them perfect for searing and charring. You can also take them from the stovetop to the oven to the tabletop, all the while avoiding extra dishes.

Not to mention, they are virtually indestructible. My dad purchased a couple of cast iron pans for me twelve years ago and they practically look new. Need more proof? He inherited a set of pans from his mother and they are still going strong decades later.

But back to the original topic, here’s how to take care of your cast iron:

1. Clean your cast iron pan with mild dish soap (like Mrs. Meyers) and the rough side of a sponge. Sometimes I bust out a brush if I need extra scrubbing power.

2. Rinse with water. Then, transfer your pan to the stovetop and dry it over a low flame. Allow it to cool down before putting it back in a cabinet.

3. Every third or fourth use, go an extra step and season the pan with some oil. Once it has cooled down, pour a small amount of oil onto a clean rag or paper towel and apply it to the inside of the pan.

If food is still stuck to the bottom after a scrub with a sponge or brush, boil a bit of water in the pan to loosen it up and try again with the brush.

Et voila! After just a few easy steps, you’re back in business and ready to start cooking again with your cast iron skillet.

French Words: Putain de Merde

April 5, 2016

French Words: Putain de Merde |

Inevitably, the first words you learn in another language are the bad words, like some odd language hazing tradition that is practiced the world over.

Let me apologize for waiting so long to share my favorite French cuss word, putain de merde, which is pronounced like poo-tahn duh mare-d. This expletive combines putain (a word that means whore but is used the way Americans say the f word) and marries it with merde (which translates to shit). Together it means “effing shit”.

Used on their own, these two words are said often and are fairly harmless as far as bad words go. Someone cut you off on the freeway? Putain. Run out of wine at the dinner party? Merde.

Or perhaps your son is getting married in an hour and you’ve been called back to the dressing room to discover that the zipper on your daughter-in-law’s wedding dress has broken permanently. “Putain de merde,” you say as you lift a cigarette to your lips. Then, you hunker down, tap your prior life as a seamstress, and sew her into the dress a record speed.

I would strongly advise that you do not use putain de merde regularly nor in front of your mother-in-law. It’s a bit vulgar and reserved for particularly annoying or maddening situations. For instance, when the zipper on your wedding dress breaks right before you are about to be wed because, oui oui, that happened to me.