Moroccan cooking adventures

As much as I might like to think I have a pretty decent idea of what I’m doing in the kitchen, sometimes all it takes is a few hours with someone who really knows what’s going on to remind me that I really do have a lot to learn – or to quote any Masterchef contestant, I am right at the beginning of my cooking journey. Recently, I was invited to a cooking class with a lovely lady  named Georgie Fisher who runs a variety of cooking classes from her home in Crawley under the moniker Simply Delicious – Cooking with Georgie. The classes are all centred around hosting a dinner party and cover off on an entree, main and dessert with themes including Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Moroccan, along with a few beginner technique classes. As an added bonus, you can bring along a bottle of wine and make a night of it with a few friends! I was lucky enough to be invited to a Moroccan themed class, and I turned up to Georgie’s lovely house on a Tuesday night eager to learn some things about this exotic cuisine.

Never being one to be late anywhere, we turned up early for the 6pm start and had a while to chat to Georgie before the class started. She had some water out for us, and we took the time to check out the goodies that she had available for purchase, including some delectable looking nougat and some yummy, healthy muesli.

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Settling down onto the chairs once everyone else arrived, I ogled all the fresh ingredients that Georgie had set out for the nights class. I don’t think I have ever seen such fresh produce – the tomatoes were bright red and impossibly shiny, and looked at though they were bursting with juice, and the olives were the largest I have ever seen! And the carrots in 4 different colours were stunning as well – I think I need to shop where Georgie does more often!

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For the entree part of the menu, we made carrot dip, labneh and spinach and raisin dip, and popped some pita bread in the oven and warmed up some flat bread to go with it. This part of the class is better described as cooking demonstration, as Georgie talked us through how to put a platter together, what she had done to make the labneh over the last day or so, and walked us through making the final two dips. There was lots of tips and tricks along the way about how to make life easier for yourself when you’re cooking for a lot of people. I have to admit, When I first heard the name I didn’t think I would be that sold on the spinach and raisin dip, not being a huge raisin fan, but with flavours of turmeric and natural yoghurt it was my favourite by far.

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We also chatted for a while about all the things you can do with labneh, including rolling it into little balls and covering it in dukkah (heavenly!) or adding some honey before straining it for a sweet treat.

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After eating all of that, we got down to cooking the main course, which was a seafood tagine with a chermoula that we made fresh. Now, we didn’t actually cook this in a tagine pot which I found interesting, but it did have a lovely flavour to it by the end, and the colours in the final dish were much brighter due to the lessened cooking time – all up, it only took about 20 minutes! Perfect for a dinner party. For this part of the class we got up and about and stood with Georgie at the stove while she cooked, getting more of a view of what was going on.

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Dessert was where we got a little bit more hands on, and where things got a little more exciting. Georgie had some Turkish and Australian apricots soaking in apricot nectar and orange blossom water, and we added this to some filo pastry crisps, honey labneh and pomegranate syrup and seeds – yum!

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It was a great way to spend 3 hours, learning from Georgie how to put together an easy dinner party menu and having a few laughs with some new friends. It was a very relaxing atmosphere, and I think a really fun way to get a group of girls (or guys!) together over some good food and a few glasses of wine. I will definitely be back to check out the Vietnamese menu!

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