the appetizer:

Chocolate for Breakfast: Entertaining Menus to Start the Day with a Celebration From Napa Valley's Oak Knoll Inn by Barbara Passino, includes recipes like Chocolate Omelet with Blueberries in a Pinot Noir Sauce; Tajine of Kefta and Eggs; and Chocolate Banana Strudel.

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Tajine of Kefta and Eggs

Serves 8

Tajine of Kefta and Eggs


From the first bite of this dish I knew I had to bring it back to our guests, so we embarked on the Great Kefta Quest, traveling across Morocco in search of the tastiest version. Familiar with all aspects of Moroccan culture, our gentle guide, Chaal Houssein, introduced us to chefs and spice markets from Marrakech to Fez, and invited us to his home where his wife and mother prepared a show-stopping lunch to illustrate techniques and flavors. Most chefs were happy to share information about method and equipment, but very secretive about their spice mixtures, called ras-al-hanout. For me, experimenting to develop the right combination is part of the joy of reliving the sensory memories of travel—the unique flavors, scents and textures. Here's my not-so-secret translation.

Kefta ingredients

Sauce ingredients

Ingredients to finish

Wine suggestions: Syrah; Sanglovese


To Make the Kefta

Special equipment: A tajine, or substitute a 1O-12-inch round baking dish with a cover.

Mince the meat, oil, onion, garlic and fresh herbs twice through a meat grinder, or pulse in a food processor. Knead in the spices and leave the mixture to stand for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry.

Make into small meatballs, about the diameter of a quarter, by rolling a pinch of meat around in your palms. You can do this as the sauce is cooking.

To Make The Sauce

In a tajine or baking dish over medium heat, melt the butter and add all of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer the sauce for 5-10 minutes until it has thickened slightly. If you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan through the sauce, you'll notice the oil will separate from the tomato liquid. At this point, add the meatballs and cook, uncovered, over gentle heat for an additional 10 minutes, turning the meatballs now and then to coat them with the sauce.

To Finish

Once the meatballs are cooked through, crack and drop the eggs into the sauce between the meatballs. Cover the tajine and continue to cook over medium heat until the egg whites are opaque and the yolks soft, which will only take 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle a little finely chopped parsley over the top.

Hint: Peeling and seeding tomatoes the easy way - cut the tomato in half from the top stem end to the bottom. Scoop out the seeds with your finger without being too fussy. This is a rustic dish and a few seeds won't hurt. Place a cheese grater with medium-sized holes in a bowl. Cup the tomato in your hand with the skin-side against your palm. Run the cut side of the tomato back and forth against the grater. You'll wind up with a bowl full of crushed tomato and an empty skin in your hand.

Night owl instructions

Prepare the kefta mixture and the sauce the night before and refrigerate them separately. In the morning, reheat the sauce, roll the meatballs and add them to the sauce, followed by the eggs.

Alternative Spices

Ras-al-hanout is a spice mixture that vaguely translates 'as head of the house'.

Each Moroccan restaurant or cook will create a unique mixture of up to 20 spices. Available at ethnic shops or from Whole Spice (see Resources in the book), ras-al-hanout can be substituted for the spices in this recipe, and will add an additional depth of flavor.

Omit the paprika, cumin, ginger and cinnamon and use 1 tablespoon of Ras-al-hanout in the meatballs and 2 teaspoons in the sauce.


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This page created April 2009