Tag Archives: Moroccan

The Kasbah Chronicles May 2015

OOOPS:

I had first written in my April  Enewsletter that my presentation at the Cardiff Library would take place on April 21, 2015 ( I sent out a second message with the correct date.)  Two, sharp-eyed readers caught the error.

It is on THURSDAY May 21, at 6PM

Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch

San Diego County Library

2081 Newcastle Ave.

Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

760 633 3631

Gabriel.aguirre@sdcounty.ca.gov

 

The Kasbah Chronicles

May 15, 2015

Two recent trips had me wondering why I yearn to hop on a plane towards distant continents.

 

The first was a drive with my mother along Highway 1’s legendary Big Sur, to Carmel, Monterey, and Salinas.

 

What pleasure to rediscover narrow roads free of traffic, emerald pastures dotted with HAPPY CALIFORNIA COWS, (the TV ad is right) and hundreds of dozing elephant seals who lay claim to the stretch of sand at Piedras Blancas.

Santa Barbara and its jacaranda-lined streets surely rival the Côte d’Azur in topography, natural beauty and architecture. In the hills, behind the awe-inspiring Mission Santa Barbara (http://www.santabarbaramission.org), we strolled through a meadow carpeted with California wild flowers, exotic displays of succulents, and even a small grove of redwoods (not to mention a lovely gift store) at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens (www.sbbg.org/visit)

Bouchon and Opal’s, two well-known downtown Santa Barbara restaurants, left delectable impressions. As did the weekly farmer’s market, where I learned that coffee grows in the Santa Barbara hills.

A short stretch of 101 freeway separates the gardens from Montecito and Casa del Herrero (www.casadelherrero.com), an authentic Andalucian-style estate built in the 1920s. The décor includes tiles (many inscribed in Arabic) hand-made by Tunisian artisans.

While in Montecito, I headed for Tecolote Books, a charming independent bookstore, to drop off copies of Mint Tea and Minarets.

To our surprise, tiles inscribed in Arabic also decorated a wall of the Hearst Castle. Upon arrival, my mother needed stair-free access to this hilltop landmark. A driver in a golf cart took us on a circuitous ride to the back door and the castle’s Gargantuan KITCHEN where we perused the yards of stainless steel counters and sinks. (Did you know you can purchase farm-raised beef from the ranch at the site’s cavernous welcome center?)

A few miles up the coast, the hundreds of dozing elephant seals at Piedras Blancas appeared not to have moved an inch since I had last seen them when I was tracking down commercial mussel and abalone farms to include in The California Farm Cookbook.

The unending curves of Highway 1 were easy to navigate on a beautiful day, giving us time to appreciate the natural beauty of sea, sky, and hills.  The terrace of Nepenthe, one of Big Sur’s iconic restaurants, offered one of the best views of the coast along enormous sandwiches.

Carmel’s gorgeous mission basilica is one of the first landmarks to welcome visitors into this celebrity filled town. Lucky for us, the parking lot was free of the usual tour buses. The gift store (where you will find A Biblical Feast) holds a variety of treasures, not all religious in nature.

What I longed to visit again was the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. I last visited in 1993 on assignment to explore Steinbeck Country. I visited Cannery Row with Bruce Ariss, an acquaintance of Steinbeck’s. Ariss has passed away, but his memory lives on Cannery Row (see photo above.) At the Center, you can spend hours viewing the lifelike displays, films, posters, artwork, and films related to Steinbeck and his oeuvre. The California Farm Cookbook contains a recipe from the Steinbeck House (steinbeckhouse.com), where volunteers man the restaurant a few days a week.

A few days after my return home, I was on the road with my husband towards a totally different world, the Anza Borrego Desert and Agua Caliente County Park located along the famed Butterfield Stage mail route. Driving from the “flatlands” of the coast into the pine-covered hills of Julian, then gently “sliding” into the desert brought to mind Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains. Similar praire like fields and boulder-strewn hills line the road from the Alpine town of Ifrane to Errachidia on the edge of the pre-Sahara. The only thing missing were Barbary apes and caravans of dromedaries. (Ooops: Did I mention Oasis Camel dairy in Ramona, CA?! www.cameldairy.com)

Travel details:

Agua Caliente County Park has 7 cabins for rent. Bring your on bedding and food. Park closes May 21 because of the heat. In season, you can explore the trails and soak in warm spring-fed pools and a large indoor spa. www.sandiegocounty.gov/parks/Camping/agua_caliente.html

Idyllwild: Breathe in the crisp mountain air at this pretty mountain resort and artist retreat east of Los Angeles. Local resident Julie Pendray’s informative blog (specialsnotonthemenu.com) lists local happenings

Appearances and book signings:

Thursday, April 21, 2015

Repeat performance!

Come sip a glass of iced mint tea and sample

Fresh Flavors of the Kasbah: 

Moroccan adventures in food and travel

6PM

Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch

San Diego County Library

2081 Newcastle Ave.

Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

760 633 3631

Gabriel.aguirre@sdcounty.ca.gov

 

Repeat performance #2!

Macy’s School of Cooking

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Noon-1:30PM

Phone: 888-424-3663

1555 Camino de la Reina

Mission Valley – San Diego

Moroccan Cooking Cass

Join in the fun as I cook with renowned Chef Bernard Guillas of La Jolla’s Marine Room at Macy’s School of Cooking. Watch us prepare a sampling of Moroccan dishes. Come early. First come first seated (120 seats.) Line starts forming 45 mns ahead of time! A book signing will conclude the class.

Menu:

Tomato, fava bean, and preserved lemon crostini

from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

Tagine of Eggs with Olives and Cumin

from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

Orange Slices in Orange Blossom Water with Candied Almonds

How to preserve lemons, Moroccan style

Iced mint tea, Morocco’s national drink

Note: I am still booking programs for summer and beyond.

Do you follow Nan Sterman’s terrific new show, A Growing Passion, on KPBS? Nan was kind enough to invite me on the April 16, 2015 segment:

Preserving the Harvest segment

http://agrowingpassion.com/tv-schedule/?utm_source=Nan%27s+list&utm_campaign=c06d92e724-April_15_Newsletter4_16_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_97e9ba1dff-c06d92e724-70362153

A French review of Mint Tea and Minarets on Toile d’Epices, a French site dedicated to spices

http://forum.toildepices.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=547&p=2056&hilit=morse

CHARMOULA marinade served at White House Dinner!

You’ll find a recipe for this classic Moroccan marinade in each of my books!

Obama Welcomes African Leaders for Unusual Dinner

WASHINGTON — Aug 5, 2014, 10:49 PM ET

White House dinner

“The menu featured a largely American-style dinner with hints of Africa sprinkled throughout each of the four courses.

Guests dined on chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps, which are made of chick peas; chopped farm-stand vegetable salad using produce from the first lady’s garden; and grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef served with chermoula, a marinade used in North African cooking, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Dessert was cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar. American wines were also on the menu.”

Alimentum, The Literature of Food, reviews Mint Tea and Minarets

I am a fan of Alimentum, an online magazine dedicated to the Literature of Food. The editors try their best to showcase some of the best food writing around. I was doubly thrilled with their review of Mint Tea and Minarets.

So here it is, and do visit their website. You’ll leave hungry for more!

http://www.alimentumjournal.com

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

 

After the fires/May 2014

The lingering smell of smoke from the terrible fires in San Marcos (about 7miles east of us) has evaporated.  The breeze swept away the film of burnt ash that covered our patio. What a sinking, heartsick feeling to stand on our rooftop terrace and view the macabre fireworks lighting up the string of nearby hills around Cal State San Marcos, about 7 miles away. The university was evacuated, and their commencement ceremonies put off for a week. Couple that with incessant TV coverage of the worst hit areas around us, and you get the idea: San Diego County suffered.

 

 The dramatic episode brought to mind our long ago honeymoon: I insisted on taking Owen to the Moroccan oasis of Ouarzazate (now Morocco’s “Hollywood”). It must have been at least 115 degrees in the (non-existent) shade. Not only did we battle burning “chergui” or “sirocco” winds similar to California’s Santa Anas, but in Morocco, they carried clouds of ravenous locusts. Ha! Memories!

Events like the fires help put things in perspective. I am always amazed at the equanimity of newly homeless homeowners. “We’re alive, our family is safe, and so are our animals. That’s what’s important. We will rebuild.”

 

Would I react the same way? I don’t know. One thing is for sure, I am REALLY going prepare my emergency suitcase, just in case. If you were told to evacuate NOW, are you prepared?  What would you put in the “grab and go” boxes before a hurried escape?

 

 A touch of spring lingers. A mockingbird wakes us up each morning with a concert of chirps, obsessed with its need to attract a mate. The bird, like homeowners with burnt out houses, take the long view. I will try that approach!

 

 

 

Happy 100th Julia Child!

Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

 This month, the culinary world is celebrating what would have been Julia’s 100th birthday. The occasion calls for sharing my own “Julia” memories.

 As a novice food writer, I pitched a story on Julia to a local magazine a few months ahead of the culinary icon’s visit to San Diego. The go-ahead for a proposed phone interview with Julia sent my heart racing. I held my breath and called her home in Cambridge (MA), and left a message on her answering machine. Our phone rang the next morning while I was under the shower. My husband had no idea of my assignment when he picked up the receiver. He barged into the bathroom with a wild eyed look on his face. “Are YOU expecting a call from Julia Child?” he asked. YES!

A few years later, I was invited to cook alongside Julia for a benefit. The event took place in a private home in Santa Barbara (see picture below.) My menu included bestila. Julia, ever her considerate self, watched attentively as I assembled Morocco’s my phyllo “pie” filled with sweet shredded chicken, and redolent of saffron, cinnamon, and of course, bountiful handfuls of chopped cilantro (fresh coriander.) Julia stood beside me answering questions from participants about her life and career. Only weeks later did I learn she HATED cilantro! She never let on! Here again, she won over my husband. “Julia made it a point to come into the kitchen to thank me for doing the dishes,” he told me, starry eyed.

This is the other dish I cooked alongside Julia:

Tagine of Cornish Hens with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Serves 4

 

Salt and pepper

2 medium Cornish hens, rinsed and patted dry

Pulp of 1 preserved lemon

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 onion, finely diced

1 cup chicken broth

8 threads Spanish saffron, toasted and crushed with a little salt

10 fresh cilantro sprigs, tied with cotton string

20 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, tied with cotton string

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons preserved lemon pulp

1 cup green, pitted (optional) green or purple olives in brine, drained, and rinsed under running water

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Crusty bread, for serving

 

         Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Salt and pepper the cavity of the hens. Rub the outside with the lemon pulp. Set aside.

         In a medium enameled casserole, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, paprika, ginger, pepper, and cook, stirring until the mixture foams, 1 to 2 minutes. (Do not overcook, or the spices will turn bitter.) Add the hens, and stir to coat. Add the onion, broth, saffron, cilantro, and parsley. Cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Bake until the juices run clear and the hens are tender, 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F. With a slotted spoon, transfer the hens to an oven proof dish to keep warm. Leave the sauce in the pan. Discard the parsley and cilantro. 

         Bring the sauce to a simmer on top of the stove. Reduce it by 1/4. Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and olives. Stir gently until heated through. Set the hens in the center of a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the dish. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve with crusty bread.

 

copyright Kitty Morse 2012. www.kittymorse.com

 Julia, we miss you! Your spirit (and your recipes) lives on! View more photos of Julia on http://pinterest.com/pin/168462842282204227/


Watch me on YOU TUBE: Share with friends! Leave a comment!

Watch me make Moroccan preserved lemons

 Cooking at the KasbahPreserved Lemons YouTube

www.youtube.com/watch?v=boW_el5VZiY

 

A la prochaine!

Kitty