December 22, 2006

A Moroccan Lamb & Apricot Tajine for 45 Years

There's a summer place
Where it may rain or storm
Yet I'm safe and warm
For within that summer place
Your arms reach out to me
And my heart is free from all care

For it knows
There are no gloomy skies
When seen through the eyes
Of those who are blessed with love

And the sweet secret of
A summer place
Is that it's anywhere
Where two people share
All their hopes
All their dreams
All their love

- Theme from a Summer Place; their theme song

Forty-five years ago with God as their witness, they vowed to live the rest of their lives together as one. Now 5 children and 8 grandchildren later, they still dance cheek to cheek to the same theme song. :)

We celebrated their anniversary with home cooked dishes, good wine and adorable performances from the kiddos. The kitchen was abuzz with activity as Julio serenaded us from the porch. Rusty cheekily tried to steal food from the table. It was a picture from my childhood, except this time we were in the kitchen while an entirely new generation chased each other around the house.

My brother and his family were in town over the weekend so we chose to have our dinner on Sunday instead of Thursday.

For starters we brought out some salchichon & cheese with crackers and slices of french bread, while we continued to work in the kitchen. My sister brought mechado (Filipino beef stew) and made an Oriental salad while my mom cooked her delicious fabada and steamed a nice fresh fish. I, on the other hand, was busy with my Moroccan Lamb & Apricot Tajine with couscous.

As you may have noticed, because the decision to have the dinner at home instead of going out to a restaurant was made at the last minute, we didn't coordinate the menu to the detail. We just basically assigned each other (my sister, mom and I) a dish or two each. So the buffet was a hodge-podge of Spanish, Filipino, Oriental and Moroccan, yet somehow everything seemed to come together very well.

I am a big fan of all things Moroccan, especially Moroccan food, and lamb tajine is a favorite. This dish is traditionally cooked in a clay pot also called a tajine (ahem ahem, anyone still looking for my gift, you are welcome to give me a nice tajine, I'll be happy with a Le Creuset. heehee. No I'm kidding! Seriously, it doesnt' have to branded ;) ). It comes in 2 pieces - a shallow clay casserole for the bottom, and a conical lid which fits snugly into the other piece. It's such a wonderful dish because it can go from stove-top to oven to table.

This is adapted from a recipe my friend ripped out of a magazine .

Moroccan Lamb & Apricot Tajine

2 tbsp olive oil
600 g lamb shoulder or neck (3m cubes)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 red chillies
½ tsp cumin
Black pepper
227 g can plum tomatoes (not drained)
300 ml lamb stock (or beef)
400g can chickpeas
100g dried apricots, cut
1 small handful fresh coriander, chopped

Preheat oven to 160 deg C.

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Brown the lamb in small batches, set aside.
Fry the onion until soft, then add garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, chilies, cumin, black pepper and rose petals (if available). Fry for another minute. Then add tomatoes and stock.
Bring to the boil and return the lamb to the casserole. Season and bake in the oven with the lid on for 1 hour. Add the chickpeas and apricots and stir. Then cook for another hour until tender.
Remove from the oven and stir through the chopped coriander.

The original recipe calls for 2 tsp dried rose petals but I had to leave this out because I didn't have any. I like to serve it together with the couscous and some apricot jam on the side for those who prefer it a little sweeter.

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad!! I love you! :)


Senor Enrique said...

Belated Happy Anniversary to your parents!

Merry Christmas!

briliantdonkey said...

when will I learn. STOP visiting Gypsy and Joey's blogs late at night. grrrrrrr! or I should say 'grrrrrrummmmble" What do you know? I am hungry now.

christine said...

Thanks Eric, and Merry Christmas to you too! :)

Hey, BD! Thanks for dropping by. :)

joey said...

I love those pictures (the one where they do the same pose years and years later)! :) Belated happy anniversay to your parents!

That lamb tajine sounds delicious! Wish I could have tasted some...hint, hint... ;)

Santa, if you are reading, I want a tajine too!

Garrett said...

I love those pictures of them. What a romantic post. The best to you all!

christine said...

Jo, me too! And the cheesier the better heehee. I'll make the tajine for you sometime, would be my pleasure. :) I'm really tempted to buy my own tajine, but I'm saving all these "big" (in size, weight or price) buys for after I move to Canada. I'm trying not to have too many things to ship over. My books are already enough to burn a hole in my pocket in shipping costs for sure. :)

Thanks Garrett! Hope you're enjoying the holidays! :)

Hermie said...

Christine, I love what you did with the old pic of your mom and dad and how you directed them to do the same pose for their current pic. Good job.

I saw your query to Anton about camera ISO settings and noise. Noise is usually present at higher ISO settings so reduce your ISO setting for night shots. But be warned that lower ISO means less light sensitivity so you should have slower shutter speeds to get the right exposure. You may need to use a tripod to avoid blurring.

christine said...

Hermie, thank you so much for that explanation, that was very kind of you! I see now what I've been doing wrong. I thought the higher the ISO the better,so I kept it at 800. And when I'm on auto, it's on Hi Auto. I don't have a tripod yet, but I'm looking to get one of those portable ones with the short bendable legs that you can attach to just about any surface/pole etc. In the meantime, I'll play around with a lower ISO, keeping in mind what you've taught me. Thanks again! :)

stef said...

The tagine recipe sounds (reads) fabulous, must try sometime. A month late, but congratulations to your parents! How wonderful for them, and for you!

christine said...

Thank you, Stef! I hope you try it sometime. I do think you'll like it. :)

Marishka said...

Hi. I typed "tajine" on the search engine and this blog comes up. I was wondering, since you're on the subject, if you know of a place where I can buy an actual tajine dish, the claypot dish here in Manila. Been dying to cook this chicken tajine dish with preserved lemons. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. Marishka.

christine said...

Hi Marishka! No, unfortunately not. I've been on the lookout as well. But if I do find a place that sells tajines, I promise to let you know! Good luck to us! :)

Caron said...

Hi Thanks for the moroccan lamb recipe. Have been looking for one similar to one I found in a magazine 2 years ago (have since lost the cutting!!!) And this sounds really close to that one.
thanks again.


christine said...

Hi Caron!! This must be the same recipe! A friend of mine found it in a magazine too, but I changed it up a bit. :) Glad you found it here.

website design said...

Wow true love still exist. I know i sound like i dont believe in love anymore... but can you blame me? i've been in pain with my first love. Hopefully ill be able to find a new lovve life.

jane said...

That is sad there.. hopefully you will find a man for you that will love you and you will also love.

katty said...

This blog is wonderful and interesting, i really enjoyed reading!!! i must to say the apricot is delicious and contain many vitamin. That is why i prefer to eat it frequently. Actually when i bought my house through
costa rica homes for sale i didn´t see an apricot tree. Now i am really happy.