Cheese, Wine and Romance

Sounds like a perfect renaissance moment to me.

Today I’m not sharing a recipe however, I want to share with you something a little more special. Something that only gets better with age. Something that any one can have, should have. I call it my Stolen Moments recipe. It does not required cooking, special tools or ingredients but it involves food. Good basic food. and love. and attention.

wine and cheese

You see – you, us, I, we, they – everyone is busy doing something and I imagine most of us work overtime just to catch up on things we’ve always planned on doing but left it for the last minute, simply because we do so much that almost everything is considered “the last minute”. Then, it’s no surprise that we find ourselves sitting in front of the screen late at night typing, posting, emailing, doing something. But. There is someone who I know very close to my heart, who truly knows how to make the world stop and enjoy a few stolen moments. Someone who makes me forget about everything and anything and simply makes me enjoy the present when and where ever it may be – My other half.

wine and cheese, lifestyle

The Mr. is an amazing tennis player, his biggest most passionate hobby. Every time when he returns from a game he freshens up then prepare just for the two of us – those special Renaissance moments – Cheese, Wine and Romance. Unless he finds me on cloud nine, my mouth is wide open and my head tilted on the sofa, I’m usually wide awake and I’m all in. But I am only only allowed to watch him.

wine and cheese, lifestyle

He takes fresh baguette, cuts it into thick slices and toasts them. So crunchy.

wine and cheese, lifestyle

He takes soft Brie, Feta and Goat cheese, then slices the Brie and crumbles the Feta and arranges them on a platter. He then spreads just a touch of Goat cheese on a toasted Pita bread and tops it with fresh sliced cucumber.

wine and cheese, lifestyle

He knows I love creativity.

wine and cheese, lifestyle

He peels, chops and slices lots of fresh vegetables. I love the chopping sound and the fresh smell of vegetables.

wine and cheese, lifestyle

He picks one or two types of fresh seasonal fruits.

wine and cheese, lifestyle

He is in full swing and knows his ways around our new kitchen.

wine and cheese, lifestyle

He moves the vase of flowers to the table.

He arranges the food on a pretty china.

He pours our favorite red wine in big wine glasses.

He dims the lights.

He opens the back door so I can hear the sound of the water in the fountains.

He lights candles.

He keeps quite.

I do too.

But that’s a little hard to do…

Ahhh….stolen moments. No one can take them away.


Moroccan cuisine in Paris

I love authentic Moroccan food. There is no second to its richness, texture, flavors and the awesome verity in Moroccan cuisine makes it a very happy food.  One of my favorite is couscous but not the kind that comes in a box. No! I’m glad my mother doesn’t read my blog, if she knew I used instant couscous in this recipe (quick and easy but delicious), she would never let me in her house again. So lets just keep is between the two of us shall we.

But I’m hungry for the real deal here, the kind of couscous my mom prepares from scratch. The kind of couscous that if you start to cook it early in the morning, you might be able to finish on your child’s graduation day. That’s how long it takes to make it. Is labor of love worth the hassle? let’s think: it’s fluffy, airy, versatile, delicious and takes on any flavors you top it with, simply 100% customizable to your own juice buds. I’d say Yes. Do I make it from scratch? On occasions, depending on my mood. But that’s another post.

moroccan couscous

Paris is loaded with top-notch restaurants, especially middle eastern ones that prepare my kind of couscous. I will not mention what they top the couscous with but it’s…oh, I can’t even describe it. But I’ll tell you anyway, they top it with Chicken Tagine, spicy sausage, tender meat, lamb, or simply cooked vegetables that make this dish blast with flavor. Almost the same as my mom’s.

moroccan chicken with olives

Besides, when you’re in Paris can you go wrong with food? most chances, in my opinion, no.

paris cafeThis is my favorite spot when I visit Paris with my husband, located in Place de la Madeleine . This is the view from our window so it was easy to check when this place opens.

I love to explore goodies in Paris especially Moroccan food but let’s get things straight here – I am not talking about Morocco, a country that got me in every sense of the every way, the core of all everything Moroccan.

But Morocco, in a future post.

Shockingly delicious moroccan grilled vegetables on linguine bed

Hello super chefs,
I know what you’re thinking: Moroccan dish? pasta? how….? well, maybe it doesn’t go together but in my kitchen it does.
So in this dinner you will indulge on juicy grilled vegetables zapped with a custom blend of Moroccan spices. Loaded with fiber, low in fat, 100% organic and 200% vegetarian not to mention satisfying and the smell – if my kitchen walls could talk…nice hah?
But before we get to business please allow me to share some thoughts with you o.k.? You know, I wasn’t sure if I should post this recipe. I mean look at the pictures, besides that my photography is that so shabby, it’s pretty self-explanatory – linguine topped with grilled vegetables right? right. But wrong. You see, there is much more to it than just cooking and feeding a hungry mouths. Here is how I see it – I am very creative as you probably know but sometimes I don’t feel like cooking (happened to you?). And when I do, as tired as I might be, I’m out of ideas and not in the mood to be bothered with too much “kitchen” you know (happened to you?). And sometimes, just when everybody else in the household expects the genie in me to make magic…well…all I want then is hide (happened to you? please say yes so I wont feel left out here).

delicious moroccan grilled vegetables on linguine

Simply put – some days are just not your days. So what are you going to do about it? I’ll tell you what I do – I cook – but not just cook – I cook hot and spicy. Taking it out on the food? maybe. But I don’t just cook hot and spicy people, I go the extra mile and blend colors with textures and spices sometimes without even thinking, driving everybody crazy with a wicked aroma, while amusing myself and avoiding thinking about how the day that wasn’t my day was you know. But don’t get me wrong, hot and spicy doesn’t mean punishing your loved ones (think this option didn’t cross my mind?), but I’m all about balance. Just try not to lose it, get creative, get the genie out of you if you need to and get to business. After all, commands are fully obeyed on a happy stomach.
backyard grown tomatoesMy own grown tomatoes from my yard. Little jewels that inspired me to cook this dish.
I usually eye-ball almost everything (a method I inherited from my mother), but here I was more specific for those who need that extra help.

You know, when I made this dish my husband was literally starving. I mean not only for food but for a super creation and honestly, he didn’t expect to “experience” this kind of smell that just popped out from the spices, I mean he drooled. When he finally sat down to eat and took the first bites, he looked at me. I saw the fire in his eyes…he would get me arrested if he could… for doing that good.

So, shall we:
1 pkg of linguine, cooked (follow package directions)
zest of 1 lemon
2 of each of these fresh vegetables:
carrots, red onion, yellow onion, grape tomatoes
1 jar baby artichoke hearts in vinegar (you can use plain artichoke hearts in a can)
1 tsp shredded ginger
handful arugula
3 tbsp chopped parsley
any spices you have: 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
1 tsp of each: ground coriander, red sweet paprika, red-hot paprika, mustard seeds, cumin, nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
olive oil
1 large garlic head (cloves separated with skin on) and save 7-8 cloves for the linguine
Peel the carrots, cut to large pieces and cook in a boiling for a few minutes or until tender. Drain well and put in a large mixing bowl. Drain the artichokes, pressing gently to remove any access liquid and add to the carrots. Peel and cut to large pieces or slices all the other vegetables (garlic cloves leave whole) and add to the carrots. Add spices and coat with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Combine all the ingredients making sure vegetables are well coated with the spice blend. Set a side and get the linguine sauce going.delicious moroccan grilled vegetables
Linguine sauce: cover the bottom of a medium non-stick pan with olive oil. Add 7-8 garlic cloves (I like to leave the skin on). Don’t let the oil get too hot, add 3/4 cup of water, be careful though and add parsley and lemon zest. Add the cooked linguine, season with salt and pepper and gently fold. Let simmer about 3 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat.
The Vegetables: get a hot non-stick skillet going. Carefully lay marinated vegetables in skillet, you will hear sizzling sounds (love that!) and in no time you will begin to feel high. The aroma is going to drive you crazy. and your dog too. Grill vegetables 3-4 minutes on each side, turning gently while trying to keep the pieces whole, until nicely charred.

moroccan grilled vegetables

Assembly: on a large platter, pick a pretty one you are about to impress your family and yourself, lay the linguine and pour over any liquid left from the pan. Top linguine with the heavenly charred vegetables, garnish with arugula.
delicious moroccan grilled vegetables on linguine

Enjoy. I know you will.