Culinary Tour Through Morocco, Spain and Portugal Starts March 29

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A thousand years of conquests, occupations and re-conquests in many ways bind Morocco, Spain and Portugal more tightly together than to their respective European and African neighbours, because the epic conflicts of these vast and powerful empires gave rise to an intricate intercultural transfer.

Nowhere is this more evident than in their three astonishingly complex cuisines, each proudly distinct, but enriched and nuanced by essential influences from both neighbours.

The Moorish conquest and long occupation of much of Iberia brought with it the spices and culinary secrets of Africa, the Middle East and Asia and Arab agricultural technology that transformed arid land into productive gardens. Rice was “the blessing of the Arabs”. Via Portugal and Spain, tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, potatoes and spices from the Americas and South East Asia found their way into the souks of Morocco.

But the elements that distinguish these traditions are as important as the cross-fertilizations: It is still lamb in Morocco and pork in Iberia, and only in Portugal will you commonly find curry on the menu. And there is a healthy competition for culinary bragging rights: What the Portuguese, with gentle disdain, call mohlo â espanhola (Spanish sauce), the Spanish call salsa portuguesa.

This series captures the essences of these cuisines in recipes that are easy enough to prepare for family dinners and stylish enough to impress guests. – Don Dickson

Moroccan Favourites

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Zeilook: Roasted Eggplant “Jam”
Shlada Bellecheen: Orange and Walnut Salad Tuna Confit with Olives and Preserved Lemons
Bakoula: Pure ed Greens and Herbs with White Anchovies
Sweet Spiced Carrot Salad
Roasted Green Peppers and Tomato Salad
Spiced Beets with Orange Blossom Water
Sekso Fassi: Couscous with Braised Lamb and Fruits, Fez Style

Seven is a favoured number in Arab cultures and a Moroccan meal typically begins with seven “salads”. These are often not salads as we think of them, and there are not always seven, but they are called seven salads nonetheless. The contrasting tastes and textures of these small plates excite the appetite and express the abundance and generosity of Moroccan hospitality. A glorious sweet and savoury couscous of braised lamb completes this class.

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Spanish Favourites

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Coca De Cebolla y Miel: Flatbread with Onions and Honey
Ensaladilla de Fabes y Atun: White Bean and Tuna Salad
Pimientos Rehogados: Sauteed Piquillio Peppers with Cream
Chanfaina: Catalan Vegetable Stew
Paella Valenciana: Paella with Seafood and Chorizo

This class is built around paella, the dish most closely associated with Spanish cuisine, and is rounded out with tapas, the small plates synonymous with Spanish food culture.

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Portuguese Favourites

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Caldo Verde: Kale and Potato Soup
Meia Desfieta: Salt Cod and Chickpeas
Carne de Porco com Ameijoas a Alentejana: Marinated Pork with Clams
Batatas a Portuguesa: Portuguese Fried Potatoes
Pudim Flan Timorense: Coconut Flan

Several of the best meals we have eaten were in Portugal. It was difficult to reduce a list of my favourite Portuguese dishes to something manageable. This menu features iconic dishes that reflect regional specialties and Portugal’s embrace of tropical ingredients.
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