Red’s Hot Women internship: THE FOODIE EXPERIENCE

24-03-10 – The taste of Morocco workshop

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Bryson on March 24, 2010

Today I got the chance to take part in a Taste of Morocco Workshop that Waitrose’s Executive Chef Neil Nugent and Food Creative’s Lawrence Brackstone were leading for some of the Brand Development team.

I’ve eaten in a few Moroccan restaurants in London over the past decade, but never seriously dabbled in cooking the cuisine at home beyond using cous cous in a few chicken and salad recipes.

Neil runs these cookery classes for the team once a month to help them widen their culinary knowledge, inspire them and perhaps apply it to projects they might be working on.

Neil and Lawrence both demonstrated a variety of Moroccan dishes and talked us through their significance and history. The most surprising thing about the cuisine is, that while spices are an important element of the dishes, it’s a delicate flavour not a gobsmackingly hot one as you might expect.

I’m a big fan of mixing fruit with savoury dishes so really adore the combinations I tried today – especially the Lamb Tagine with apricots and almonds that just melted off the bone, and also the Chicken Tagine with pears and honey – really delicate and light.

The cooked salads – Zaalouk and Takouk – like a kind of cold ratatouille were really delicious, as was the Harrira soup – a chunky lamb and vegetable broth that is traditionally the first dish eaten after the fasting of Ramadan. I could eat soup for lunch every day and not get bored so it’s great to find a new one to try at home!

Next we were split into groups of three and it was our turn to do some cooking. Each team was given a different recipe to follow and once we’d come up with our dishes we circulated around the room sampling everyone’s efforts.

It was a great way to try even more of the cuisine, but also to get a bit of hands on experience. Our group made Seven Vegetable Tagine – lots of chopping involved here! But once we’d prepped our ingredients it was just a question of sweating them in a big pan with a combination of spices, adding some stock and very strong salted lemon and letting it cook.

It’s a lovely way of cooking that’s pretty simple, healthy and with really tasty results. I’ll definitely be adding a Tagine to my kitchen gadget wish list after today!