Baby Shower Part 2 (and recipes)

A potluck, Moroccan-themed baby shower was recently held in honor of parents-to-be, Susan and Henry. Their front parlour in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was transformed into a desert oasis, lively with well-wishers, a bar stocked with pomegranate martinis and several festively draped tables of food. Guests knoshed on a meze platter, pomegranate chicken and apricots, a tagine of lamb, pears and almonds, cardamom rice pilaf, eggplant of all manner and varieties, pistachios, dates, homebaked bread, arugula and orange salad, an Arabic pastry platter and a date and pecan-festooned three layer cake. Oh, not to mention spicy sausages in tomato sauce, marinated shaved carrots and mini meat tarts. Presents were presented, toasts offered and good cheer abounded, all under the basking glow of 8 months preggers Susan and hubby Henry. Please join Cafe Drake in extending our very best to the McKeever-Duys family. We'll keep you posted on the upcoming arrival! In the spirit of the site, below are two of our favorite Northern African recipes.


The measurements below are open to interpretation; use more or less of the spices according to your tastes. This a wonderful and simple entree, to be served with either couscous for absorbing the delicious juices, or homemade french fries dusted with sumac or zatar. Present a salad and perhaps some cheese after and you have a quick dinner for company with exotic palattes.

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup) / 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced / 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin / 1 teaspoon paprika (preferably hot) /1 teaspoon ground ginger /3/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon /1/8 teaspoon cayenne /3 tablespoons olive oil /1 tablespoon cider vinegar /1 (15- to 19-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained /2 teaspoons sugar /1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, juice reserved and tomatoes coarsely chopped / 3 lb cultivated mussels, scrubbed and beards removed /2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  1. Cook onion, garlic, and spices in oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Stir in vinegar and simmer 1 minute. Add chickpeas, sugar, and tomatoes with their juice, then increase heat to moderate and gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add mussels and return to a simmer. Cover tightly with lid and cook until mussels just open wide, 3 to 6 minutes. (Discard any mussels that remain unopened after 6 minutes.
  4. Stir in parsley and serve in shallow bowls.


This fast dish is great for weeknight dinners, as it comes together quickly and provides plenty of leftovers for lunch the following day. The preserved lemons are available in all Middle Eastern and Arabic grocery stores. They can also be ordered online from many sources. Inexpensive and deliciously pungent, a jar is great to have around to accompany and roasted meats. The lemons will keep indefinately under refrigeration.

12 chicken pieces /1 teaspoon ground cinnamon /1 teaspoon ground ginger /1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric /1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika /1/2 teaspoon ground pepper /1/4 cup olive oil /2 onions, chopped /1 red bell pepper, chopped /1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped /1 1/2 cups chicken stock /4 preserved lemons, chopped /2 tablespoons lemon juice /1 cup green olives

  1. Combine chicken with spices in large bowl. Stand covered, for 1 hour.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pan. Cook chicken until well browned, but not cooked through. Transfer to larger pan.
  3. Add remaining oil to pan. Add onion and peppers. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring. Transfer to large pan with chicken pieces.
  4. Add coriander and stock, lemon rind, juice and olives.
  5. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes, until tender and liquid has reduced.Thicken sauce with cornflour if desired. Serve over couscous or rice pilaf.


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