Finally I have an afternoon to myself, and am able to update our blog, so make sure you hang tight, because there’s gonna be a lot of great food coming your way. Believe it, or not, at the end of my winter break I was so busy cooking that I didn’t have time to write blogs, and we barely got by with photographs. We mostly just have memories of the delicious food that was so easy to cook, anyone can do it, guaranteed.
As you know, I really love the Food Network, and I watch many of the cooking shows, and even some of the other (more “reality-based”) shows. I’m not a big fan of shows like The Worst Chefs In America, but last year, when I was home, I decided to watch The Next Food Network Star, because it would determine the new personality that I would be able to watch. I wasn’t extremely invested in the drama of it all, I just wanted to see who would win, so I watched the show, and in the end, Chef Melissa D’Arabian won! Melissa started her Food Network Career, and frankly I was excited. This woman is filled with great tips, and recipes, and I have enjoyed trying a few of her recipes that have now been posted on the Food Network website.
Moroccan Feast, with help from Melissa D’Arabian

Now I can’t take credit for the original idea, but I have altered the recipe slightly so that (in my opinion) it comes out just a little bit better.
Melissa’s recipe for the meatballs and couscous can be found here, and her carrots, here.
1.5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemon, zested
1/2 cup pitted, drained and chopped kalamata olives
1/8 cup chopped capers
1/2 cup white wine (any kind you prefer)
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups freshly crushed tomatoes (Peel the tomatoes by dropping them into a pot or bowl of boiling water, and then after a minute or so, the skin should come right off, then crush the tomatoes with your hand)
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 or 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and Pepper
1 can of tomato paste, minus 2 tablespoons (for the meatballs)
The easiest way to make this sauce is to make sure you have all of your ingredients ready before you start cooking. Zest the lemon, dice the onion, etc. Then start by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the onion and garlic until they are soft. Then add the lemon zest, olives, and capers. After about a minute, add the white wine to deglaze the pan, and let the mixture reduce for 1-2 minutes. When your kitchen begins to smell delicious, add the stock, tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, cinnamon and cumin, and season with salt and pepper. If the sauce looks a little thin, begin to add the tomato paste, a spoonful at a time. Whenever you’re working with a tomato based sauce, soup or dish, it is important to have tomato paste on hand, in case your mixture is too thin. I found that the juice from the tomatoes really thin the sauce out, and it’s much better thick. After this, your sauce is done, so set it aside, and concentrate on those meatballs!
1 egg
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (plus more for decoration)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4-1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup panko (or breadcrumbs if you prefer)
Salt and Pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together, this is easy to do with your hands, since you’re going to use them to roll the meatballs anyway. Once the ingredients are incorporated with one another, roll out meatballs, no larger than 1-inch in diameter, and keep them all relatively the same size. Melissa uses vegetable oil to do the preliminary meatball cooking, but I prefer olive oil, you can use whatever oil you like. The idea is to brown the meatballs, and then let them cook the rest of the way in the sauce at a slow simmer, but meatballs wont brown if you put 30 in a pan, so it’s easiest to cook them in small batches, of whatever size you can handle. Once they have browned, try and drip off some of the excess oil on a paper towel, and then add them to the sauce. When all of the meatballs have been browned and are put in the sauce, leave them in the pan with the sauce on a low heat for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, you can try Melissa’s glazed carrot recipe, I had no luck with it, but it was still delicious. You can also make the accompanying couscous recipe, which is absolutely delicious.
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dates (I like them better than dried dates)
1 cup quick-cooking couscous (you can also find whole wheat couscous at some stores)
Boil the water, stock and oil, then add the couscous and dates. Cover the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes off of the heat. Fluff and serve!
Love and Happy Spatulas,