Author Archives: Kitty

About Kitty

I am a food and travel writer and cookbook author. My main passions are the cuisine of Morocco, the country where I was born, and cooking with the seasonal bounty of California's farms.

THE KASBAH CHRONICLES: SEPTEMBER 2021

View this email in your browserThe Kasbah Chronicles: September 2021
Back again!

THIS POST IS A COPY OF MY NEWSLETTER, THE KASBAH CHRONICLES. FOR  a FULL VIEW WITH PHOTOS OF THE NEWSLETTER PLS CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE. MERCI

End of Summer 2021
Lightning in Carlsbad CA.during a rare summer shower
From Instagram.

The Kasbah Chronicles
Les Chroniques de la Kasbah
In English and en français

 Please don’t give up on The Kasbah Chronicles!
Ne m’abandonnez-pas!

MUSINGS

Safe splashdown of Spacex capsule as I write. Exciting

Recipe:
Kitty’s Salmon Spinach Bestila
Links of interest in English and en français
More Moroccan items for sale

MUSINGS:

Here I go again, making amends for being weeks late in publishing my newsletter. Please don’t give up on me. This has been such a strange summer, and, fortunately for us in Southern California, quite cool though California is in dire need of rain. We watch in horror as fires consume millions of acres in the north, and are now threatening our beloved giant redwoods. It cannot be possible that these 2,500-year-old natural icons are in the path of a raging monster fire. Let’s hope tiny sprinkles come down in the next few days. That said, I looked on, equally horrified at the hurricanes drowning the south. And I cried all over again during the 20 year remembrances of 9/11. How our lives have changed since the

If we are on our way to sending human colonizers to Mars (poor Mars,) is there no way to divert water from one end of the country to another, here on earth? I know…Money is always involved.

Throughout these events, my working hours appear to zip past. I feel I am playing catch up most of the time. I  keep my nose to the grindstone with my next book. Writing is rewriting, as all writers know. And I do keep rewriting! The challenge is what motivates me. Suffice to say that my research has led from the Belle Epoque (remember Midnight in Paris??), through the cataclysmic events of World War 1 and World War 2, delving into family documents and mounds of historical research, and testing family recipes. Stay tuned!

Next week, I will shed my skittish COVID persona (doubly vaxxed, and hoping for a 3rd), to rejoin the human race for a literary tour of New England with my friend Susan McBeth of Adventures by the Book. (www.adventuresbythebook.com.) I am looking forward to revisiting Boston where I was invited to cook at the Ritz thirty years ago (yikes!!)and visiting points north during the changing of the leaves. AND EATING LOBSTER ROLLS!! Next year, Inch Allah, I will head overseas again.

PS: I travel on my stomach.Does anyone have recommendations for lobster rolls and seafood eateries in Boston secrets spots, Portland, or Kennebunkport?

In the meantime, part of my days is spent in the kitchen, which for me is a creative form of relaxation. Here is an updated salmon bestila you might enjoy. DO NOT be intimidated by phyllo dough: remember, YOU are the boss and rips are easily corrected by pasting a patch of phyllo painted with melted butter them.

 

Kitty Morse’s Salmon Spinach Bestila
Adapted from
Cooking at the Kasbah: recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen (Chronicle Books)
Copyright 2021

Serves 6

10 green onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound boned salmon fillets
12 ounces frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
10 sprigs fresh cilantro, minced (about 1/4 cup, loosely packed)
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs or almond meal
2 tablespoons (or more) diced preserved lemon rind
1 teaspoon salt
8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Finely dice the green onions. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, paprika, and ground cumin, stirring until spices begin to foam, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the salmon fillets and cook through. Discard the skin and shred the salmon with a fork. Add the drained spinach and preserved lemon. Stir fry until spinach is hot. Cool a few minutes and combine with the cilantro and half the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Stack 8 sheets the phyllo on a work surface lined with a damp towel. (Rewrap remaining phyllo, and refrigerate for future use.) Cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.

With a pastry brush, paint a pie plate with melted butter. Stack 4 sheets of phyllo on the bottom, painting each one with butter, and dusting the 4th sheet with the remaining bread crumbs. Top with the cooled filling, leaving at least an inch free around the sides.  Use the remaining buttered sheets to enclose the pie. Carefully fold the bottom sheets over the filling. Then, carefully tuck the top sheets under the pie. (At this point, the pie can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated, or frozen.)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake on the middle rack until the pie turns golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve hot.
Bon appétit!

And to top it off, our friend Ron Baker’s GRILLED PEACH SUNDAE..YUM!
Ron is also a professional photographer. View his food and travel shots at
ronbakerpix.com

One of my rare ventures out this past month was to visit Zion Market. This giant supermarket in the Clairemont Mesa area of San Diego combines foodstuffs from Korea and most of Asia, live seafood, and acres of frozen specialties which I could not even decipher. And dozens of varieties of kimchee!!

Asian mushrooms galore…

and frozen gizzards

and every Asian vegetable under the sun

and especially
PARIS BAGUETTE

In the same space is one of the BEST French bakeries I have come across in San Diego, Paris Baguette—a South Korean chain now conquering the US.. https://www.parisbaguette.com/
The French pastries with an Asian twist are worth the detour.
Who knew???: “Born from a love of bread and a passion for quality, we are an international bakery founded in 1988, specializing in French-inspired goods. In addition to chef-inspired cakes, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and signature coffee and tea, we offer a unique experience to thousands of guests daily. Today we have over 4,000 locations worldwide, satisfying cravings and taste buds of all ages and backgrounds.”

Sandwiches just like in Paris.. 

Kitty in the media:
My most excellent Whale adventure in Baja California.
A trip I hope to repeat one day.
https://winedineandtravelmagazine.com/wdt/santafe/index.html#p=216

Links of interest:
My absolute favorite American food writer, and my longtime inspiration:
 https://lithub.com/in-celebration-of-laurie-colwins-lost-manhattan/
Laurie was a writer for Gourmet magazine (remember?!) and has written a series of brilliant books about food and cooking. May you cook up a storm wherever you are, Laurie…

GoodNeighborGardens.com
San Diego County residents: A wonderful CSA, Good Neighbor Gardens…I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had attended a farm to table dinner at Sage Hill Ranch Gardens in Escondido, CA. https://sagehillranchgardens.squarespace.com, in Escondido, CA. At the time, I met Mia Vaughnes, the charming founder of this local CSA. Check out their website.

Urban Sharecrop.com
goodneighborgardens.com

San Diego, CA
858.375.6121
goodneighborgardens@gmail.com
From their website:
“We farm yards and schools in San Diego homes to deliver organic, locally grown, pesticide-free produce through a CSA model. Good Neighbor Gardens provides garden installation and consistent maintenance for interested homeowners, affectionately known as The Gracious Neighbor. Our skilled crew will assess your land, develop detailed design proposals and work with you to create your ideal back yard farm. The harvest team gathers surplus crops from all Good Neighbor Gardens across the county to assemble weekly produce packages, deliver them to our Harvest Share subscribers… “

Nouvelles en français (the following links are in French and in English.)

https://france-amerique.com/la-haute-culture-fait-rayonner-arles/?utm_source=Weekly+Newsletter+ LA HAUTE CULTURE FAIT RAYONNER ARLES
Haute Culture Illuminates Arles

« ÊTRE FRANCOPHILE, C’EST UNE PASSION À VIE »
“Being a Francophile Is a Life Sentence”
https://france-amerique.com/roger-cohen-etre-francophile-est-une-passion-a-vie

Roger Cohen, le plus francophile des journalistes américains, dirige le bureau du New York Times à Paris, ville dans laquelle il a débuté sa carrière de correspondant il y a bientôt trente ans. > Lire la suite

Roger Cohen, the most Francophile of all American journalists, heads up the New York Times bureau in Paris, where he began his career as a correspondent almost 30 years ago. > Read more

SPARE ME !!!!
LE FRENCH TACOS ET LE SENSCACHÉ DE NOTRE ALIMENTATION
https://france-amerique.com/en/le-french-tacos-and-the-hidden-meanings-of-what-we-eat/?utm_
Le French Tacos and the Hidden Meanings of What We Eat

« Un monstre gras sans véritables racines culinaire » : c’est ainsi que notre correspondant à Paris décrit le French tacos, la déclinaison française du traditionnel taco mexicain. > Lire la suite

“A fattening Franken-food without genuine culinary roots.” This is how our Paris correspondent describes le French tacos, the Gallic take on the traditional Mexican taco. > Read more

Kitty is downsizing (again and toujours)
The holidays are looming!
I am selling Moroccan artifacts from my father’s estate in Morocco, as well as Moroccan handicrafts, throw rugs, lithographs, baskets, hand woven textiles, hand embroidered kaftan, vintage ceramics, pottery, ginger jars, a gorgeous large hand-made tagine (serves at least 12) made in the US, vintage brass copper trays and Moroccan copper cauldron, antique Victorian glass hanging lamp, brass boxes, antique Moroccan daggers, brass Moroccan floor lamps, unusual vintage hand carved thuya (ironwood) box from Essaouira, Moroccan costume jewelry,
as well as various pieces of antique French silverware.

Should you wish to see them in person, just email me and we can schedule a masked and vaccinated private visit.
e-mail: info@mintteaandminarets.com
Just to give you an idea:
  and a matching pair of antique stained glass windows from a Victorian home in Wisconsin (We acquired them in Milwaukee.) They are stunning!As always
Bismillah
Bon Appetit
and keep COVID and its variants at bay.

Wine Dine and Travel: “My” Whale of an Adventure

I am now a staff writer for this gorgeous online travel magazine wine dine and travel.
Please clock on the link to view my latest story on  my trip to Baja California to pet a whale..(yes, it is legal.)

https://winedineandtravelmagazine.com/wdt/santafe/index.html#p=216

 

THE KASBAH CHRONICLES MAY-JUNE 2021

MAY/JUNE 2021

again, better late than never

PS: My computer crashed towards the end of July 2021 forcing a complete overhaul of this site–thus these late postings

MUSINGS

The Kasbah Chronicles

Les Chroniques de la Kasbah

In English and en français

On the cusp of July

It has been a long time..

Notes on my next cookbook

News from Champagne

Miller Beer: The Champagne of Beers. Really?

Recipe: Rice grits

Kitty’s Moroccan items for sale

A request from a reader

MUSINGS:

Travel? Dare we? Dare we not? That is the question.

I am holding France and Châlons-en-Champagne, my mother’s birthplace, in my sights for September but who knows if I can be lured onto an overseas flight and face the ever-changing travel restrictions/rules overseas? I can’t seem to make up my mind. CANCELLED! The stress of following daily updates about the pandemic in France and other destinations discouraged me.. Next year in Champagne, Inch Allah¡

In the meantime, I remain glued to my computer adding finishing touches to my book. Refining the manuscript like adding dabs of color to a painting, adding little touches here and there to brighten a scene or an image.

Researching the era my great-grandfather served as a surgeon in the French army in WW1, then translating his memoir of WWII, when he kept a journal detailing the advance of German forces in the Champagne region, led me down innumerable rabbit holes overflowing with “la petite histoire.” In writer’s parlance, I succumbed to “research rapture,” a “dis-ease” for which I have found no cure.

Fun discovery: I have started to read the newsletter published in my mother’s birthplace, Chalons en Champagne, l’Hebdo du Vendredi. And this was my FIRST click on the site: Milwaukee (WI) is my family “home” in the US, and I went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. What do I find on the Hebdo site but a reference to Miller Beer and a Milwaukee street I know well! How dare does Miller Beer refer to its brew as “The Champagne of Beers!”  Ooops…

http://www.lhebdoduvendredi.com/article/40384/une-region-champagne-dans-le-wisconsin

But all research must come to an end…and now the “real” work begins!

A RICE Realization

Speaking of research…I explored the contents of my kitchen cupboards to “rediscover” a container filled with “rice couscous”…a product I had brought back from Morocco to test as a gluten free alternative. I forgot it at the back of said cupboard until last week when I woke up with a start and it came to me that “rice couscous” was the Moroccan name for rice grits.

I prepared the rice grits as I would “instant” couscous (many recipes in my Couscous: Fresh and Flavorful Contemporary Recipes) made my traditional couscous “stew” and voilà: RICE COUSCOUS. You can substitute rice grits for couscous in most couscous recipes. They are a fantastic alternative to polenta as well.

1 3/4 cups water or broth

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup rice grits

— In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water or broth and the butter to a boil. Add the grits in a stream. Stir once. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand until the grits are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Topping of your choice.

To make your own: Simply place whole rice in a blender or food processor and process into coarse grits. Cook like rice, “steam” or prepare in the “instant manner” as you would medium grain couscous. This is not a pudding like congee, the rice grits must absorb all the liquid and remain dry, as it should for rice.

A reader is looking for a painted Moroccan table. Can you help? If so, e-mail me, and I will forward your message to her.

I AM  selling vintage items and antiques from Morocco: decorative objects, textiles, Berber jewelry, brass, hand painted plates, authentic tagine pots, copper bestila pan, and other Moroccan cooking implements. Pls send me an email if you are interested, and I can send you pictures.

Mint Tea and Minarets is available in hard copy and as an e-book. So is Edible Flowers: a Kitchen Companion.

Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

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

Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued : souvenirs et saveurs de Dar Zitoun (French translation by Kitty Morse)

https://www.amazon.com/Riad-Bord-lOued-souvenirs-saveurs-ebook/

 

Until next time,

Kitty

THE KASBAH CHRONICLES: APRIL 2021

Posted in August 2021..sorry….

APRIL 2021

The Kasbah Chronicles

Les Chroniques de la Kasbah

In English and en français

Musings

Kitty in the media

Classes and presentations

Notes on my next cookbook

Links of interest

News of Morocco and beyond

Moroccan items for sale

MUSINGS:

March 2021 slipped away like the neighbor’s cat that slinks out of sight at my approach. No matter, I have always preferred APRIL. Sunny, clear, and warm. Very warm, with California facing another drought. Though in France, you keep your umbralla at hand for “En avril, ne te decouvre pas d’un fil.” (In April, do not take one thread off!”)

Ooh la la—quel soulagement! Who would have thought that a simple jab in the arm could provide such relief. Funny how it lifted the cloud of COVID off our shoulders, yet whisps of it do remain. My mask now feels like a necessary appendage. And shaking hands has morphed into a faux pas. My husband and I have decided to adopt new ways of greeting others: Right hand on our heart with a slight bow of the head, Middle Eastern style: as salaam aleikum, or in Moroccan darija dialect, Labbas ahlik. We also like the Thai custom of joining hands as if in prayer with a little bow of the head. Sawwadee khaa (fem.)?? Sawwadee khrap (yep—masc.!!)

Apart from figuring out how to interact socially, I am immersed in writing, editing, and indulging in a good amount of “research rapture.” I had forgotten the amount of work it takes to write a cookbook/memoir: first, the story, then, selecting the recipes in French, translating them and adapting grams to US cups and tablespoons, then, recipe testing. All that and my husband’s gorgeous food photography. Sixteen months and counting! It’ll be done when it is done.

Days and weeks slip by at such speed, it leaves me breathless. The rest of my time is spent at bi-weekly Jazzercise classes, masked, socially distanced and IN PERSON! And in private sessions with an Italian instructor based in Guanajuato, MEX. The wonders of the Internet!

That doesn’t mean I have given up on the Kasbah Chronicles, or on you lovely readers who contact me throughout the year: Bienvenue once again!

Please don’t give up on me..

Check “Kitty is selling ” link for updates on the Moroccan antiques and artifacts I am selling..

A bientot,

 

Ghoriba, Moroccan macaroons

Ghoriba Semolina Cookies

Excerpted from Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen

Makes about 4 dozen

 Did you know that the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks, all cultivated sesame seeds and sometimes used them as packing material? Ghoriba are the most popular cookies in Morocco.

3/4 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds, toasted

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup fine semolina

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 stick butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

 

In a wide, shallow bowl, mix sesame seeds, flour, semolina, baking powder, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, and butter. Slowly add the oil, stirring vigorously. Turn it onto a lightly floured board and knead until dough is thick and elastic. This could take up to 10 minutes. Let dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take one tablespoon of dough, and with your hands, roll it into a 1-inch ball. Set on a greased or non-stick baking sheet and flatten it with your fingers to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Continue in this manner until all dough is used.

Bake until cookies turn light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula. Sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar.  Store in a metal tin.