Moroccan Memory

Hello again blogosphere!

I’ve been away from you, traveling through London and Paris, and regaining my culinary verve!

In looking back at some of my last posts, I can see I was in a cooking rut. Making dinner had become a chore instead of the hour of relaxation and decompression it had previously been for me.

I was definitely in need of a break.

But now, I’m back in my itty bitty city kitchen with new culinary inspiration!

In London I stumbled upon a fantastic little Moroccan restaurant in the Leicester Square area. And I had one of the most amazing plates of food I have ever experienced. It could have been the charming waiter. It could have been the thrill of being to dinner by myself in a foreign city. Or it could have been the best darn cous cous I have ever had.

Whatever it may be, I was craving it when we got back. So I set to work to recreate the meal.

Moroccan food is my new obsession. The way the vegetables are roasted to tender perfection, the pairing of sweet and warm and savory spices, the burst of dried apricots nestled amongst the squash and sweet potatoes… Drool worthy.

This might not be authentic Moroccan, but it captured the essence of the meal.

This made enough for the two of us for dinner and extra for two or three lunches. The best kind of recipe!

You will need

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 yellow squash cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • a handful of shredded cabbage
  • a handful each of dried prunes and dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • couscous

Once all of the ingredients are chopped, it’s just a matter of layering all of the flavors in a big pot and letting them cook together.

Start by drizzling a big heavy bottomed pan with olive oil and tossing in the onion.



When the onion is softened, add the garlic, tomato paste and cinnamon.


Give a big stir and add about a 1/2 cup of water, stirring to combine the tomato paste.


Let this cook together for about 5 minutes, and then add the sweet potato, squash, carrots and cabbage.


Give the pot a big stir and add the apricots and prunes.


Give it another big stir to combine and then add about a cup and a half of water


Cover and let simmer over medium heat for about an hour, stirring twice.

After an hour, add the chickpeas and stir to combine.


Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. The chickpeas just need a few minutes to warm through. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Serve up big bowls of couscous and ladle the vegetable mixture over top.


Eating it I was back in the restaurant watching people walk around London…




Eggplant, Tomatoes, peppers, chickpeas.

I cook with these ingredients a lot.

Sometimes all together. Sometimes in different combinations with some other vegetables thrown in. But they’re pretty standard occupiers of my fridge.

We all go to the market and we all find ourselves coming back with the same things over and over again.

There’s not an infinite number of vegetables in the world. And there’s not an infinite number of foods to be tried.


There are infinite possibilities when it comes to flavors.

Recently I’ve been exploring an aisle in the store I usually shied away from. Instead of picking up the usual salt, pepper and dried basil, I’ve been venturing out with things like coriander and ground ginger.

Mixing spices lets you transform your vegetables. Spices can take eggplant from Italy to Morocco and to your dinner table.

And that’s what I did with this dish. I took my usual suspects of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and chickpeas and tossed them with some new spices. The result? The smoky and complex flavors of the dishes I’ve had in Moroccan restaurants.

For this dish you will need

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander

Drizzle olive oil in a large pot and toss in the eggplant, seasoning with salt and pepper. Let the eggplant cook on its own for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Eggplant is like a sponge, so add more oil if it soak it all up.


Add the peppers and stir, letting them soften a bit.


Next add in the tomatoes. This is a one pot dinner that’s all about layering the flavors. The vegetables cook at different times, so by adding them in throughout the cooking process, each gets the chance to cook through without turning to mush.


Last, add in the chickpeas and the spices. Give the pot a big stir, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. This is a great dish if your significant other is going to be late because it can just hang on the stove over low heat until everyone is home.


Dish up heaping bowls and top with a scoop of tzatziki.


The noise of the city fades as the spices transport you to a far off village…

Paprika, Sweet Potato, Chickpea Stew

It was great to escape the hustle and bustle of the city this weekend and trade it in for the flash and glitz of the casino.

There’s this sensation in a casino, or state of being maybe is the better phrase, that doesn’t happen anywhere else. There are no clocks, so time doesn’t exist. There are no windows, so day, night, sunny, cloudy, doesn’t matter. And everyone is in the same place for the same reasons – booze, gambling and fun.

It was great to spend time with his family and even better to put a rough week behind us. And I like the occasional night off from cooking.

But all day at work I couldn’t help but be antsy to get back to my kitchen.

It may be teeny, but it’s mine.

After a few overindulgent nights, we needed something light, healthy and vegetarian for Meatless Monday. I wanted fresh, crisp vegetables after so many vodka tonics and greasy fries. I saw quite a few people posting about sweet potatoes on Twitter today. I love sweet potatoes. That got the wheels turning.

I started googling recipes. I came across a sweet potato and chickpea curry. Close. But not quite. That led me to a Moroccan chickpea stew. Again, close, but not ….

Wait a minute!

Why not take the parts from each I like and do a mashup?

This is really the first recipe I’ve completely made up and winged it on.

You will need

  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, diced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • a few handfuls baby spinach
  • paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vegetable oil

Drizzle the bottom of the pot with vegetable oil and add in the garlic and shallots, cooking until brown.


Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes. Look at that color! So much good stuff packed in there – potassium, Vitamin C. Okay. I’m not all health and nutrition knowledgeable. So I’ll stick to the cooking. IMG_0756

Dice up the sweet potatoes into bite-size cubes and toss them into the pot, seasoning with salt, pepper and paprika ( a lot of paprika).


From this point on, it’s just about layering flavors into the pot. Once the potatoes, shallot and garlic are chopped, there’s very little counter space required. This, like most soups, is a great itty bitty city kitchen friendly dish. Okay, let the potatoes cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice so they don’t stick.

Add the can of tomatoes, juice included, and stir.


Add the can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.


Add enough water to the pot to cover the veggies. For me, this was two fills of the chickpea can.


Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Just before serving, tear up some baby spinach, stir in, and let it wilt a bit.


Serve up in bowls with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


This may be a soup with some hints of Thanksgiving, but it’s still light and refreshing enough for a healthy summer dinner.