Another shot from my most recent trip to Morocco:
A cup of Starbucks Coffee at the HUGE
Morocco Mall in Casablanca.
A little cafe nearby serves mint tea,
May you find much to celebrate this
(preferably with a champagne toast.)
As I was huffing and puffing through my Jazzercise class this morning,
my instructor said she purchased 35 pounds of masa to make her
For those outside Southern California, tamales are a Mexican Christmas
delicacy wrapped in corn husks, eaten mainly during the Christmas season.
Around these parts, families get together to make dozens and dozens
(and dozens) of savory and sweet tamales to share with loved ones.
Still huffing, my thoughts turned to my own version of tamales, one using
couscous instead of the traditional Mexican masa. I once took dozens
(and dozens) of corn husks to Dar Zitoun, to demonstrate to my Moroccan
friends how to make tamales (TAMALES FREEZE!)
The recipe is long, but believe me, the result is worth it!
Excerpted from my book, Couscous (Chronicle Books, 1999)
Kitty’s Pineapple-Banana Couscous Tamales with
Cream of Coconut
The inspiration for this recipe was a pineapple tamal I tasted while serving
as a food judge at the Indio International Tamale (sic) Festival, in California’s Coachella Valley.
Serves 12 (makes about 2 dozen tamales)
32 corn husks (see Note)
2 2/3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups couscous
3/4 cup coconut cream (see Note)
4 medium bananas
1/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dried candied pineapple chunks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for garnish
3 tablespoons rum
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Immerse corn husks in a large pot of boiling water. Remove from the heat,
and let stand until soft and pliable, 40 to 45 minutes. Drain husks and pat
dry. Reserve 3 or 4 husks to line a steamer basket or colander.
With kitchen scissors, cut 2 of the husks lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips.
In a large saucepan, bring the water, salt, and 3 tablespoons of the butter to
a boil. Add the couscous and 1/2 cup of the coconut cream. Stir to blend.
Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand until the couscous is tender,
12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.
Quarter the bananas lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch dice. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the remaining butter. Add the dark brown sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the diced bananas. Stir to coat. Cook until the bananas soften somewhat, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the pineapple chunks, cinnamon, and rum. Stir to blend. Set aside.
To assemble the tamales, position a husk so the long edge faces you. Place
1/4 cup of the couscous mixture in the center. With a spatula, flatten the
couscous to form a 3-by-3-inch square about 1/4 inch thick. Set a heaping
tablespoon of the pineapple-banana mixture in the center of this square, and
form into a sausage shape. Leave a 1-inch border of uncovered couscous
top and bottom, and 1/2 inch on the sides. Grasp the bottom edge of the husk and fold it in half lengthwise. Compress to seal the couscous to itself and enclose the filling.
Gently unfold the husk, then wrap it around the couscous, as you would an
egg roll. Fold over the tapered end, and tie with a reserved precut strip of husk. Compress the other end. Leave open. Proceed in this manner until all the tamales are assembled.
Line the bottom of a steamer basket or colander with the reserved husks.
Set the tamales upright, closed end down, inside the colander. Bring water
to a boil in bottom part of the steamer. Cover tightly. Steam the tamales
until firm and heated through, 40 to 45 minutes.
In a chilled metal bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold in the
vanilla and remaining coconut cream. Set aside.
Place a steamed tamal in its husk on a dessert plate. With kitchen scissors,
cut away a large, V-shaped piece of husk to expose the couscous. Spoon a
generous dollop of coconut cream sauce on or near the tamal, sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve.
Note: Cans of coconut cream are available in liquor stores or Asian markets.
To celebrate both the holidays and persimmon season, I offer up the
following in memory of my friend Margie Oakes of Oakes Knoll’s farm in
Fallbrook (CA), provider of the plumpest persimmons in San Diego County. Margie was also a contributor to my book 365 to Cook Vegetarian (Harper Collins 1998)
with her recipe for Easy Overnight Lasagne, an unusual meatless version
assembled a day ahead.
Fuyu persimmons can be eaten out of hand, like an apple (they resemble
a square tomato.) Hachyias must attain a pudding like consistency. In France, persimmons
are called “KAKI.” Go figure.
Margie’s Persimmon Crisp
4 or 5 Fuyu persimmons, peeled, seeded, and sliced (like an apple)
Fresh orange juice to barely cover the fruit
Candied ginger, diced, to taste
Fresh, grated ginger, to taste
a sprinkle of cinnamon
Place all the ingredients in a pan, and bring to a simmer.
Cook about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.
Refrigerate until ready to eat. The mixture will thicken as it cools.