we are planning for our april dinner nights at WHAT’S FOR DINNER?  the owner, toni, has let me cook there a couple nights a month, in addition to doing spaghetti and meatball dinners.  it’s a really fun time, usually WFD regulars, family and friends coming together to enjoy that place in the evenings…   last month we did the short rib sandwich and it was a great success.

this month we are going to feature spanish tapas and italian bites!*  MY FAVORITE!  i am really excited to come up with this menu.  i’ve already been brainstorming lots on tapas menu items for my catering business.  and i was trying to come up with something that could be a vehicle for all these preserved lemons i am sitting on..

i do a moroccan style preserved lemon: layers of lemons, salt, cinnamon sticks, cloves and bay leaves all soaking in lemon juice.  the result is a very tart, pickly, bright yellow, lemony zest.

what would be a better carrier for this lemon than a moroccan meatball?  i checked in with my butcher (neil at bare meats in the market) and he hooked me up with some ground lamb.  it was so lean we thought it would be a good idea to add some ground beef for some fat.  while i was bouncing back and forth between the spice counter and the meat counter, i noticed a moroccan spice blend.  i got a bunch of that mix: cilantro, mint, cinnamon, cumin, parsley, etc. etc.

for the meatballs, i chopped 2 onions, fine, and mixed with 5 pounds of ground lamb and about 2.5 pounds of ground beef.  added a bunch of the dried moroccan spice blend, and a bunch of fresh chopped mint.  salt, pepper, spanish paprika and some more cinnamon.  i used my little ice cream scooper to get small meatballs.

i packed and shaped the meatballs by hand and browned them in a pan of hot oil.  i transferred them to a sheet pan and finished them in the oven.

this is a tapas style bite: on a cucumber slice, with tzatziki (plain yogurt, lemon juice, red onion, cukes, mint, dill, s & p), moroccan meatball and preserved lemon.

and for dinner: in pita, moroccan meatballs with tzatziki, cucumber slices, preserved lemon and feta.  with roasted curry carrot “fries”.  carrots sliced and tossed in oil with curry powder, paprika and salt.  then roasted in a hot oven.

*to reserve a spot at this month’s WHAT’S FOR DINNER?”spanish tapas and italian bites dinner”, call toni at WFD 513 321 4404.  dinners served saturday 4/24/10 7-10 pm, and sunday 4/25/10 6-9 pm.  $30 includes: antipasto, tapas and bites, fresh squeezed sangria “mixer”, my sorbet! and gratuity.  BYOB.