I'm not entirely sure where the theme for this on came from. Jaimeson and I have both always loved Moroccan-inspired interiors with all the color and the flair and there were parts of They Shall Know Our Velocity that brought me straight back to North Africa over Christmas. In addition to the allure of all those gorgeous spices sitting rather mysteriously at the back of my shelf and smelling like the exact opposite of slushy snow in the Midwest.
So we rounded up a few of the usual suspects and ended up with a completely unique smattering of friends, bearing their own flavors (and blogs for that matter). Elle Michelle, EpiChem, Homemaker's Habitat , her JiT, Bob & C (my friends from college), Brother D and your two cooks amounted for a crowd about as colorful as the $10 multi-pack of roses I picked up at Dominick's for "ambiance."
Given that my work week didn't quite come to a close until 3:30 on Saturday, there wasn't a whole lot of time for ornate decor. Instead, we moved the coffee table flush against the armoire, moved the flokati (white shag rug) into the opened space.Everyone sat on the couches anyway but HoneyCat sat herself right in the middle of everything for the full night. We lit a mismatch of candles with varying vases and jars of roses all over the place. And maps. And stacks of books. And I pinned a scarf around my waist and wore my massive earrings. Ta-Da.
The star appetizer was homemade lemon herb hummus and pita crisps from our very favorite Homemaker. Lord knows I love anything involveing lemon and herbs, Amen. We offered a couple easy noshes in kalamata olives and still more pita triangles with goat cheese that'd been rolled in sweet paprika, a new easy favorite.
Welcome to the dinner spread! We pulled the mezze up to the table and sat it along side other accoutrements like yogurt sauce (ok less Moracco, more tzatziki...sue us), tabouli straight from Sultan's Market and my contribution...my favorite couscous pilaf.
CousCous Pilaf (doubled for our purposes)1 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used my homemade turkey broth)
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1/3 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
1 TB butter (unsalted)
1/3 cup toasted, slivered almonds (we toasted them quickly in a dry frying pan)
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
zest and juice of half a lemon
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Bring broth to a boil. Remove from heat. Add couscous and cover. After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork and add everything else. OMG YOU'RE DONE.
So good...so easy.
Now Jaimeson's chicken on the other hand... I'm afraid I can't give you the recipe for. I can tell you 90% of what's in it but he's magic and operates in secret and rebels against recipes because that's just the kind of guy he is. Seriously, it is hard to be a girl with a cooking blog dating a guy who is a fabulous cook but does it so naturally that it is impossible to share. I will videotape him next time...promise.
As for what's in it:
various chicken pieces (thighs, breasts, legs)
various spices (cumin, tumeric, paprika, allspice, cloves)
olives, dates, golden raisins, thin slices of lemon, whole cloves of garlic
J marinated it for 4 hours before cooking it for almost two. I know he has adjustments he'd like to make for next time (a little brown sugar, some butter over the top, a little madeira, etc.) but we ate like CHAMPS. That's why it's the title picture. It's pretty so as to draw in business. Like hookers in Amsterdam but significantly more savory.
Dave/EpiChem RAN the dessert plate. I'm going to need to grab the recipes from him because right now we're calling them "date balls" and almond spice cookies but I know they have official names and you're going to want to try them. The "date balls" are even vegan! The stuff in wrappers are from a Greek grocery store in Bucktown and were bought for the simple fact that you should never grocery shop while hungry. Or with a big hungry Greek man in tow, for that matter.
Like this one, for instance. He and HoneyCat have this side act going where he can pretty much hold her however he wants and she'll just sit there. It's a little like Lamb Chop, only without The Song That Never Ends. Instead there's the wine supply that DOES end and people end up making whiskey cocktails out of mint tea and shooting Jameson.
Stay tuned for upcoming theme nights involving Chili Cook-Offs, Indian Food and a Crawfish boil. And maybe breakfast for dinner where everyone wears their jams. I love dinner parties...in fact, it's Monday and I'm off to one now!