Monthly Archives: November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from the kasbah

    

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Photography by Owen Morse

Squash and Sweet Potato Purée with Red Bell Pepper Confetti

I can hardly believe that November has come around again. Somehow, the fact has difficulty sinking in when it is 90 degrees outside. It’s a little jarring to walk into a store and find row upon row of shelves stacked with benevolent Santas.

     November also means that Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year, is just around the corner. This most American holiday turned into a multi-cultural experience for a group of American travelers on one of my tours. On that day, I had planned to be at the iconic Palais Salam Hotel, a renovated Moorish palace within the ramparts of Taroudant, an historic town in southern Morocco.

I explained to the chef the purpose of the annual day of thanks earlier that morning. He nodded once or twice, promptly gathered his staff, and disappeared into the hotel’s cavernous kitchen. Members of my tour took the opportunity to spend their free time combing the medina (old town) for anything that would bring to mind pilgrims, from feathers for their hair, to billowy skirts, Moroccan-style backless slippers, and artisanal pitchforks. They planned their entrance during dinner, to the amazement of stunned French guests. I overheard whispers of “Ces Américains!” as the twenty “pilgrims” took a seat at a table laden with pumpkins and squashes, as well as paper turkeys I had brought from the US for the occasion.

     Applause erupted on all sides when a group of beaming waiters in starched white coats marched in, holding aloft not one, but two, glistening, honey-basted turkeys studded with crimson hibiscus blossoms. The stuffing? The chef had given it a Moroccan twist – a blend of sweetened couscous, plump raisins and chopped dates faintly touched with cinnamon. Perhaps the most memorable moment arrived when a young waiter came up to me as we were leaving, and asked:

     “Madame, the American turkey it is very tasty, but can I have the paper ones to take home?”

     Why not try a Moroccan-inspired side dish for your Thanksgiving turkey? For this special occasion, I would like to share a recipe from my latest book, Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories (November 2012) (http://mintteaandminarets.com), or at 

http://www.amazon.com/Mint-Tea-Minarets-Moroccan-Memories

 

Squash and Sweet Potato Purée with Red Bell Pepper Confetti

Serves 4

1½ pounds butternut, Mediterranean, or winter squash

2 medium sweet potatoes

½ cup milk or broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ras el hanoot spice blend 

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely diced

1 teaspoon sugar

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place squash and sweet potatoes on baking sheet. Bake until soft, about 1 hour. Cool, peel, and scoop seeds from squash. Peel sweet potatoes. Puree vegetables with ricer or potato masher. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Stir in broth, salt, and ras el hanoot. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, for the confetti, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir half the confetti into the puree. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with remaining confetti.

 Note: Ras el hanout (lit. "top of the shop"), is a traditional Moroccan spice blend, often available in specialty food stores. Consult another of my cookbooks, Cooking at the Kasbah, for a recipe.

 

copyright Kitty Morse 2012

Mahia, Moroccan fig brandy

Did you know?
Morocco's Sephardic Jews are known for their special mahia, a brandy made from figs. POTENT!
 

Distilling the Taste of Morocco
David Nahmias keeps a family tradition alive by making mahia, a Moroccan fig brandy, in America

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/112829/distilling-the-taste-of-morocco

Belated October post/pomegranates

  Finally! Two advance copies of Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories arrived at our front door. A couple of thousand more should arrive from Hong Kong by November 20, 2012.
    With  327 pages, 32 original recipes, and 99 food and location photographs, the hefty, perfect bound paperback weighs in at 2 lbs 3oz.  culminating a ten year challenge of writing something else besides a cookbook. Along the way, I discovered that memoir writing is not for the faint of heart, that perseverance bordering on obssession is of paramount importance, as are an eagle-eyed husband (also photographer, recipe tester, and cheerleader-in-chief) insightful and patient friends, and discerning editors. For a preview of the contents, click on the cover of the book.
    Free shipping on all orders in the US until December 31, 2012. I would be delighted to send you a signed copy.
    No Kindle or Nook edition yet. The technology doesn't do justice to the photographs.

     Aren't pomegranates the most regal of fruits? During this pomegranate season, I' like to share my husband's latest addiction: Couscous with Pomegranate Seeds,  which he eats for dessert or for breakfast.Spiny pomegranate shrubs grew prolifically in the Holy Land. Its fruit was a symbol of fertility. Tyrian master craftsman, Huram, decorated columns in King Solomon’s palace with hundreds of bronze pomegranates. Stylized blue, gold and purple pomegranates adorned the ephods (vests) worn by temple priests. To order, go to http://www. amazon.com. The book is also available in Kindle version. For a signed copy, contact me directly. This simple recipe is excerpted from A Biblical Feast.

 Serves 1
 
1/4 cup couscous
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Buttermilk or almond milk
Sugar, if desired
 
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add couscous in a stream. Cover and let stand 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool and fluff with a fork.
 
Mix couscous with pomegranate seeds and sugar, if using. Serve with buttermilk.