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Colorful Moroccan-Inspired Dinner Party, With Recipes
A relaxed and spirited gathering
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Anyone who has word processing software set to auto-correct misspelled words knows better than to trust the computer’s suggestions. But spell-check hits the target with the last name of Palm Beach designer Jennifer Garrigues when it offers gregarious as an alternate. There’s no doubt about it: Gregarious aptly describes this decorating dynamo.
For an event in the dining room she designed for the Stately Homes by the Sea Showhouse in Rumson, New Jersey, Garrigues infused power and pizzazz into a classic space rich with decadent moldings and architectural niches. Vibrant pink, coral, mustard, and orange mingle to create an environment that sets stuffiness aside, creating a gathering both relaxed and spirited.
“When I walked into this room, the first things I noticed were all the incredible moldings,” says Garrigues. “During a recent trip to Morocco, I bought a bunch of things that were just as visually delicious. So I decided to marry the two.”
A round table clothed in white linen sets the stage for a mélange of intricately ornamented tabletop treasures. Mother-of-pearl chargers provide a contrast to the formal porcelain used for the gold-rimmed dinner plates. Mismatched but coordinating accent plates pair with pink linen napkins edged in metallic ruffles. Glassware is elaborately embellished as well. Traditional etched wineglasses are paired with hand-painted Moroccan tea glasses in saturated hues. Hammered stainless flatware adds another layer of texture.
Wherever guests are seated, they can view the room’s interesting furniture and accessories—guaranteed to spark lively conversations. Between a pair of French doors dressed in panels made of a shimmery sheer fabric and shocking pink saris, an antique wedding chest sparkles with mother-of-pearl inlay. A mirror from Syria is also framed in mother-of-pearl. An Indian textile in bold yellow and red hangs on the wall.
“Using exotic colors is the best way to entertain,” believes the blah-banishing designer. “They energize you. How can luscious color help but make you happy?”
Photography: Peter Rymwid and Peter Krumhardt
Jennifer Garrigues relied on fabrics to inject intense color into the dining room. A Suzani textile on the wall beams in joyful yellow and pink. Rattan chairs are cushioned in a fashionable ikat fabric. Linen “Wave Edge” napkins in coral from Dransfield & Ross boost the pink hues shown on the accent plates.
Function meets fabulous with mosaic pens in vibrant jewel tones that Garrigues picked up at a Moroccan market. “Utilitarian takeaways ensure that the memories of the event will be thought of often,” she explains.
Menu & Shopping List
A recent trip to Morocco influenced designer Jennifer Garrigues’ choices for the table setting and menu for this dinner. While the Moroccan marketplace’s bright colors and brilliant hodgepodge of crafts and decorative wares make playful appearances on the table, the exotic spices gently flavor these recipes.
Elephants in hot pink, green, and yellow regalia parade across tent-fold placecards from Lobird. Designer Jennifer Garrigues suggests simple white stationery with a playful depiction that relates to the overall party theme.
Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:
- Sea salt
- Ground black pepper
- Sugar (need 1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup)
- Ground cinnamon (need 1 teaspoon)
- Olive oil (need 2 tablespoons +1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons)
- White wine or cider vinegar (need 1 tablespoon)
- All-purpose flour (need 3 cups + 1-3/4 cups)
- Whole milk (need 1 cup + 5 tablespoons)
- Eggs (need 1)
- 12 sprigs lemon verbena (can substitute one lemon)
- 2 lemons (1 for tisane, if you do not have lemon verbena; 1 for lemon juice)
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 bunch sage
- 1 bunch carrots (need 6)
- 3 large tomatoes
- 2 large onions
- 1 head garlic (need 5 cloves)
- 1 (14-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 (10-ounce) package couscous
- Apricot preserves (need 2 tablespoons)
- Ground cumin
- Ground ginger
- Sesame seeds
- 1 (6-ounce) package dried apricots
- 1 (12-ounce) box raisins
- 1 (4-ounce) package pine nuts
- 1 package dry yeast
- 1 (24-ounce) package yellow cornmeal (need 1/4 cup)
- 6 small bone-in chicken breast halves
Lemon Verbena Tisane
• 12 sprigs fresh lemon verbena or the peel of 1 lemon*
• 4 sprigs fresh mint
• 4 cups boiling water
Place fresh herbs in warm teapot. Add boiling water. Steep 3 minutes; serve warm. To serve chilled, remove herbs with slotted spoon; refrigerate. Makes 6 (6-ounce) servings.
Tip: Use vegetable peeler to remove lemon peel in strips. Scrape any white pith off lemon peel strips.
Moroccan Chicken with Couscous
In Morocco this dish is commonly referred to as a tagine, a word that loosely translates to “stew.” Traditionally cooked in a conical-lidded vessel known by the same name, the recipe is easily prepared in a Dutch oven.
• 6 small bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned (3 pounds total)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 (14-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1/3 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
• 1/3 cup raisins
• 3 cups hot cooked couscous
• 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
• Fresh cilantro sprigs
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown chicken in hot oil. Remove chicken. Add cumin, ginger, and cinnamon to pan. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Add carrots, onions, and garlic to spices in pan. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth, tomato paste, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Return browned chicken to pan. Sprinkle with apricots and raisins. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat.
Cover; simmer 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Serve in shallow bowls with couscous. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cilantro. Makes 6 servings.
For Cooked Couscous:
In 2-quart saucepan bring 1-1/2 cups water and a dash of salt to boiling. Stir in 1 cup quick-cooking couscous. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork before serving. Makes 3 cups cooked couscous.
Moroccan Tomato and Mint Salad
This salad is traditionally served alongside the tagine, rather than as a separate course.
• Pinch sea salt
• 1 large clove garlic
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon white wine or cider vinegar
• 3 large tomatoes, sliced crosswise
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
• Freshly ground black pepper
For dressing, sprinkle cutting board with pinch of sea salt. Using flat blade of knife, crush garlic clove into sea salt. Finely chop garlic clove into sea salt to create chunky paste. In screw-top jar combine garlic mixture, olive oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, and vinegar. Cover; shake well.
Place half the tomato slices in single layer on serving platter. Top with half the fresh mint. Drizzle half the dressing over all. Top with remaining tomato slices and mint. Sprinkle with fresh pepper; drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.
• 2-2/3 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 package active dry yeast
• 1 cup milk
• 4 teaspoons water
• 4 teaspoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
In large mixing bowl combine 1-1/4 cups of the flour and the yeast. In small saucepan heat and stir 1 cup milk, water, olive oil, sugar, and salt just until warm (120°F to 130°F). Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with electric mixer on low to medium speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes. Using wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes total). Shape dough into ball. Place in lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled (45 to 60 minutes).
Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Grease large baking sheet; set aside. Divide dough into thirds. Cover; refrigerate 2 portions. On lightly floured surface, roll remaining portion into 12-inch circle. Transfer circle to prepared baking sheet. Stir together 2 tablespoons milk and minced garlic. Brush circle with some of the milk mixture. Using fork, generously prick entire surface of circle. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Do not let rise.
Bake in preheated 350°F oven 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire rack. Repeat rolling and baking with remaining dough, 1 portion at a time. Break into pieces to serve. Makes 3 large flatbreads.
Apricot-and-Sage Butter Cookies
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
• 1/2 cup butter
• 2 tablespoons snipped fresh sage, lemon thyme, or rosemary, or 2 teaspoons dried sage or rosemary, crushed
• 3 tablespoons milk
• 1 egg white
• 1 tablespoon water
• Fresh sage leaves (optional)
• 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
Preheat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, and cornmeal. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Stir in fresh or dried herb. Add milk; stir with fork to combine. Form mixture into ball; knead until smooth. Divide dough in half.
On lightly floured surface, roll half of dough at a time until 1/8 inch thick. Using 2-1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out dough.
In small bowl combine egg white and water. Brush half of cutouts with egg white mixture and, if desired, top with one or two small sage leaves. Brush leaves with egg white mixture. Sprinkle with sugar. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake about 7 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack; let cool.
Snip any large pieces of fruit in apricot preserves. Spread bottoms of plain cookies with preserves. Top with sage-topped cookies, flat sides down. Makes 16 sandwich cookies.
Place in layers separated by waxed paper in airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze unfilled cookies up to 3 months. Thaw cookies; fill as directed.
Want more summery recipes that feature lemon? Check out our entertaining story called Citrus Sensation.