Weekend Special – Surviving Rainy Days

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Forget April showers, it’ the middle of May and it’s been raining every … single … day for a week. Even worst, there is more, too much more, in the forecast.

It may be cold and damp but it doesn’t seem right to cook up a wintery concoction. At the same time, who wants to stand outside by the grill in the rain?

What to cook when the calendar says spring and the weather says blech!?! I like to bring out dishes that have their roots in the hot, dry dessert!

Here are a few ideas!

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To Start:
Brighten everyone’s mood with a special cocktail. Inspired by the sweet and spicy mint chai (tea) found in a Moroccan tea room, try my Moroccan Mintini. Next, instead of the same-old-same-old platter of cheese and crackers, start your guests off with Feta & Walnut Spread. Add a few Spicy Olives and Roasted Almonds to nibble.

The Main Event:
My Spicy Chicken Stew will remind you of Morocco on a cool, clear evening. Pretend you are on an oasis under a full desert moon. Add some Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts and dinner is done. This almost one dish dinner is delicious and a bit exotic on a dreary spring weekend. It’s great for entertaining because you can make the chicken stew in advance. Gently reheat while you and your guests relax and over cocktails and hors d’oeurvres.

Sweet Finale:
Top it off with a cool and creamy favorite like Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt.

Have a fun and festive feast! Bon appétit!

Moroccan Mintinis
Serve 4-6

8 ounces Moroccan Mint Spiced Chai Syrup
4 ounce sweet Marsala
8 ounces vodka
Garnish: mint sprigs

Put the chai syrup, marsala and vodka in a container and shake well. Put in the freezer for several hours.

Remove from the freezer, give it another shake and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

If you want a tini which isn’t quite so strong, add a splash of very cold mint tea or seltzer.

Moroccan Mint Spiced Chai Syrup
2 teaspoons black tea or 1 tea bag
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup honey or to taste
About 12 fresh mint leaves

Put the tea or tea bag in a small bowl. Bring 1 cup (3/4 cup if using a tea bag) water to a boil. Add the water to the tea, cover and brew for 5-7 minutes.

Strain the tea into a small saucepan; add the spices and honey. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the mint leaves. Let steep and cool  for 1 hour.

Strain the syrup through a fine-meshed tea sieve into a clean, glass jar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For a nonalcoholic cool and refreshing drink:

Moroccan Mint Spiced Chai
Serves 1

1 part Moroccan Mint Spiced Chai Syrup
2 parts cold mint tea
2 parts skim milk
Garnish: sprig of mint

Put the chai syrup in a glass, stir in the mint tea and skim milk. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Are you building an ark? Growing webs between your toes? How are you staying happy and sane during all this rainy weather? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011

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