Starters - Cream Cheese stuffed Dates
Main - Meatballs with Herbs and Lemon
Side - Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Stew
Base - Couscous
Dessert - Almond Cream Pudding
Cream Cheese stuffed Dates
Adapted from Moroccan Stuffed Dates
- 12 medjool dates
- 60g softened cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Slivered almonds to decorate
- Using a small knife, cut a slit along the length of each date and remove the pits.
- In a small bowl add all of the other ingredients, except the almonds, and stir to combine.
- Squeeze the ends of each date gently to open up the date and fill with about a teaspoon of mixture.
- Top with a sliver of almond.
- Refrigerate until required.
Cut open and remove pit.
I have a standard and small set of measuring spoons.
For everything less than 1/2 tsp. Add the almond extract,
and honey to the cream cheese
Squeeze both ends to open up the date and fill with the mixture.
Top with the almond slivers.
Meatballs with Herbs and Lemon
Cooking time: 60mins
- 1/2 brown onion
- 2 Tbs roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 slices of white bread, crust removed
- 1 egg
- 500g of minced beef
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Herb and Lemon Sauce:
- 1 Tbs butter or oil
- 1/2 brown onion
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 375ml chicken stock
- 2 Tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 Tbs chopped coriander
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 preserved lemon (optional)
- Place the onion and the parsley in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
- Tear the bread into pieces and add to the bowl with the egg, and process briefly.
- Add the meat, cumin, paprika, black pepper and salt and process to a thick paste.
- Fill a small bowl with water and moisten hands. Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls, moistening your hands as you go. Cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce.
- Heat butter or oil in a large fry-pan/saucepan and add the onion. Cook over low heat for 8mins or until soft.
- Add the paprika, turmeric, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for 1min.
- Add the stock and coriander and bring to the boil.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce, shaking the pan so they settle into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 45mins.
- Add most of the parsley and the lemon juice. Simmer for a further 2mins.
- If using the preserved lemon, rinse well under running water and remove and discard the pulp. Cut the rind into small strips and add to the meatballs.
- Transfer to a bowl and tagine. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Ingredients for the meatballs.
Process the onion with the parsley.
add the egg and bread,
then everything else.
Roll into small meatballs.
I made 35. Refrigerate while you make the sauce.
Soften the onions in the oil/butter.
Get your spices ready.
Cook until fragrant.
Chop up the coriander.
and add to the saucepan/fry-pan with the stock.
Add meatballs. Cover and cook for 45mins.
Add the parsley and lemon at the last and cook for a little longer.
Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Stew
Preparation time: 15mins
Cooking time: 25mins
- 60gams butter
- 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/8 tsp ground saffron threads
- 600g butternut pumpkin, peeled and cubed
- 500g orange/gold sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 60g raisins
- 1 Tbs honey
- coriander leaves to serve
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
- Add the onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, until softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon stick, and cayenne pepper. Stir over low heat for 1-2mins or until fragrant.
- Pour in the stock and saffron, then increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil.
- Add the pumpkin, sweet potato, raisins and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper if desired.
- Cover and simmer for a further 15mins, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove the cinnamon stick, transfer the vegetables to a serving dish and scatter with coriander leaves.
Cube the peeled pumpkin and sweet potato.
Get out your spices. I love pinch pots for this.
Add the spices to the softened onion.
I crushed saffron threads in a pinch pot to make it 'ground'.
Add to the pan with the stock.
Add the pumpkin, sweet potato, raisins and honey.
Season and cook for 15mins.
Remove cinnamon stick and sprinkle with coriander.
Cooking time: 7mins
Adapted from Pumpkin and Cashew Couscous salad.
- 375ml chicken stock
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 290g couscous
- Add the stock and oil to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Add the couscous and remove from heat.
- Cover and leave for 5 mins or until liquid is absorbed.
- Tease with a fork to loosed. Transfer to a bowl to serve.
'Tease' the couscous to make it light and fluffy.
Almond Cream Pudding
Cooking time: 10 mins
- 500ml milk
- 3 Tbs caster sugar
- 2 Tbs cornflour
- 1 Tbs rice flour
- 70g almond meal
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 2 Tbs slivered almonds
- 1 tsp caster sugar, extra
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Place the milk and sugar into a heavy-based saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved Bring to the boil.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cornflour and rice flour with 3 Tbs of water and mix to a smooth paste.
- Pour in the boiling milk, stirring with a balloon whisk, then return to the saucepan.
- Stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbling.
- Add the almond meal and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy.
- Add the rosewater and remove from the heat. Stir occasionally to cool a little, then spoon into small serving bowls or glasses.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Place the almonds on a baking tray and grill until lightly toasted.
- In a small bowl stir the cinnamon and the extra sugar together.
- Toss the almonds around in the sugar mixture and sprinkle over puddings before serving.
Dissolve the sugar in the milk and bring to the boil.
Add the flours together in a bowl then pour boiling milk over it.
Place back into the saucepan then add the almond meal.
Stir until thick and creamy.
Add the cooled mixture to glasses/bowls. Refrigerate.
Add the cinnamon to the sugar.
Lightly toast the almond slivers and toss in the cinnamon sugar.
Top the puddings with the almonds and cinnamon sugar right before serving.
Tips: There is a lot of food involved so planning and preparation help to make sure everything runs smoothly. The most important thing to do is to plan your time. Here is what I did:
- First I, (with my plus one playing the role of head cleaner, stirrer and recipe checker) made the puddings and its decoration and had them in the refrigerator before anything else.
- Then we made the meatballs and placed them in the refrigerator. We then did a clean up. I have a very small kitchen so cleaning up as I go is very crucial. Cleaning up now also gets all of utensils for the raw meat out of the way.
- I then peeled and cut up the pumpkin and sweet potato and put them aside.
- Then I made the stuffed dates and put them in the refrigerator while the plus one snoozed on the couch. I then rested for a little while.
- 1 hour out from our guests arriving we started the sauce for the meatballs and then put the meatballs on simmer.
- While the meatballs were cooking we made the stew and had that on the stove as well.
- The meatballs were done so we took them off the eat, we put them in their serving tray and placed it in a low oven to keep warm.
- This freed up stove space to make the couscous.
- While the couscous was finishing up the stew was ready and it went into it's serving dish and into the oven. At this point the guests arrived.
- Out of the fridge came the stuffed dates and I fluffed up the couscous and into the oven it went as well.
- I served the dates as well as some drinks to the guests and we sat down and enjoyed the food while knowing that everything was under control.
- When we were ready for dinner, we took out all of the mains from the oven and sprinkled the garnish, so it didn't wilt, and sat down to the feast.
- Lastly we took out the puddings and added the almond topping.
Everything, and I mean everything, turned out amazing. We weren't stressed, we had time to rest and get ready, we forgot the table cloth, the napkins and the place mats, but none of that mattered.
The dates were simply divine and something I will make again for a cocktail party. I am completely for having sweets for an appetizer. One of our guests asked for the meatball recipe which is always a complement. The pumpkin stew I will use again for a pot luck lunch or dinner. Hey maybe even the meatballs! The pudding, the pudding surprised me, it set into an amazing creamy dessert. Absolutely gorgeous! That couscous recipe I use all of the time and it has never failed me once.
I recommend every recipe. Either all together in a feast or separate. Each dish happily stands alone.
If you try the feast, good luck! It is worth it!
Until next time.
Love, love Elle.