I’ve been on a Moroccan binge ever since I discovered the spice Ras el Hanout at the Taste of Huntington Beach two years ago. Which is why I didn’t hesitate at the chance to attend a Moroccan cooking class at Savory Spice Shop and give them a shout out to promote their stores at OC Mart Mix (Costa Mesa) and in Corona del Mar.
Cooks, professional and home cooks alike, know that using the freshest, highest quality ingredients makes all the difference in a dish, and this is certainly true of herbs and spices. As soon as you enter Savory Spice Shop, you’ll know -as I did – that it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be replacing all the supermarket spices you have (some of mine are years old, I’m embarrassed to say).
Savory Spice Shop features more than 400 fresh herbs and spices, 140 unique seasoning blends, organics, extracts, sauces and more, with locations in Corona del Mar and Costa Mesa, both owned by Laura Shute and Randy Morton.
Chefs Linda Elbert and Michell Bretall, owners of The Basement Table, a pop-up restaurant at Laguna Culinary Arts, demonstrated the use of local ingredients and spices from Savory Spice Shop to create a Moroccan dinner, featuring: Moroccan spiced hummus and pita chips with Za’atar, spicy glazed carrot salad, charmoula marinade, meatball tagine with couscous and gazelle horn cookies with mint tea. Cost to attend this class was $40 per person and included a demonstration on how to prepare all the dishes.
Spicy, glazed carrot salad – crispy with bright flavors!
The charmoula is what I was dying to make again – the few little meatballs I tasted during the class served to further pique my interest in Moroccan cuisine and had my tastebuds begging for more. I’m sharing The Basement Table’s recipe as is – I strayed from the recipe only a bit by using just ground beef and one can of tomatoes (vs. two) to achieve more of a stew, and forgetting the peas! Then I noticed that there were no peas in the tagine above – there was probably a reason for this, but I don’t remember what it was. I add peas to a lot of dishes where it’s not considered the classic presentation – just because my family loves sweet petite peas, next time…
Before leaving Savory Spice Shop, I bought little 2 ounce packets of the spices I didn’t have at home to make the charmoula. That’s one of the great things about Savory Spice Shop, you can buy a little if it’s not a spice you use frequently, or go larger for your favorites. The most difficult part of this recipe was retyping it here 🙂
from The Basement Table Yield: approx. 3 cups
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 diced onions
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/2 preserved lemon, thinly sliced*
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and leave for half an hour prior to use to allow flavors to meld. The Charmoula can be stored in the refrigerator for 7 days. It’s a fabulous marinade or zingy sauce for meat, chicken, or fish – it received rave reviews when I served it as a sauce with Pacific halibut and couscous along with glazed carrots.
*No preserved lemon? I substituted orange zest for another layer of flavor, lower-sodium as well.
Moroccan Meatball (Kefta) Tagine
1 cup Charmoula
2 – 14 ounce canned crushed tomatoes*
8 ounce peas
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs*
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 egg *
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb. ground lamb
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
To make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan and “fry” the Charmoula marinade for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, prepare the meatballs.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To make the meatballs, soak the breadcrumbs in the milk until soft, then use your hands to mix the remaining ingredients until feel combined. Roll into tablespoon sized balls. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow ovenproof dish and bake for 10 minutes to seal and partially cook.
Add the peas to the tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs, coat them in sauce and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Place a tagine or flameproof dish over low heat. Place the meatballs around the outside an sprinkle with parsley. Pour the sauce into the middle. Break a raw egg into the middle of the dish and cover. Cook gently for a few minutes to allow steam to poach the egg.
* For low-sodium sauce and meatballs, I used Trader Joes No-Salt Added Chopped Tomatoes, substituted Panko breadcrumbs which are lower in sodium than other packaged breadcrumbs. Adding the egg is a nice touch, but optional – you might end up fighting for it!
Monday – Saturday: 10-6
928 Avocado Ave.
Corona del Mar, CA 92660
Ph: 949 717-7776