Category Archives: Vegetarian

Going Meatless?

Boo-Hoo, it’s Halloween in 2013! Time for pumpkin chorba soup!

 

Greetings on a sunny, Southern California, Fall afternoon. Halloween and

 

Thanksgiving are just around the corner, citrus trees are laden with ripening

 

fruit (another record crop awaits!), and golden, apple-sized figs still hang on

 

to our  tree for dear life. And birds find our our Pom Wonderful pomegranates

 

bursting open with sweetness irresistible.

 

 

I love the onset of Fall, here, in San Diego County, or anywhere else. Nature,

 

it seems puts forth its final burst of beauty, a mature one  tinged with the

 

colors of experience, of a brief, sun-drenched life. I can’t explain why, but

 

one of my favorite images of Fall is one of fading anemones in various shades of

 

pink drooping languidly over a blue vase. The artist is long erased from my

 

brain.

 

 And then there is  Halloween. Our location, off a busy street, has never been

 

conducive to enticing young children up our steep driveway. Yet, every year,

 

hoping a young visitor might break the mold, I stock up on Snicker bars, Crunch

 

bars, and Reese peanut butter cups (my husband’s favorites!) I would much rather

 

give away a wedge of Vache qui Rit cheese, or a plump Medjool date. That line of

 

thinking according to my husband, is distinctly “unamerican!”

 

 So what do you do when life hands you a carved pumpkin, and you don’t want to throw it away? Make pumpkin chorba!

Kitty’s Pumpkin, Tomato, and Vermicelli Soup

 

Serves 4 

 

In Morocco, chorba is a catch-all word for vegetable soup incorporating vermicelli broken up into tiny pieces. A bowl of steaming chorba is standard fare in many Moroccan households on chilly evenings. This soup is usually fairly thick, but you can thin it by adding a little milk.

 

 

1 medium onion

 

4 whole cloves

 

6 cups  broth

 

2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

 

4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

 

5 medium tomatoes (or 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes), quartered

 

12 sprigs cilantro, tied with string

 

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

 

1/4 cup broken up capellini, or angel hair pasta

 

1 to 2 cups milk

 

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

Wedges of lemon

 

 

         Stud the onion with the cloves. In a large saucepan or soup pot, combine the broth, squash, celery, tomatoes, cilantro, and turmeric. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Drain, reserving broth in a bowl.

 

         Discard the onion, cloves, and cilantro.

 

         In a blender, food processor or ricer, puree the vegetables in increments, adding the reserved broth a little at a time to obtain a smooth, thick puree. Return the soup to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Break up the pasta into 1-inch pieces and add to the soup. Simmer until pasta is cooked, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1 cup milk or more for a thinner soup, and heat through.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


From The Vegetarian Table: North Africa by Kitty Morse. (Chronicle Books, 1996)

 

 

 

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

Beating the Heat at the Kasbah!

July 2011 (recipe for salmorejo is below)

Dear friends:

Sitting at my desk under the relatively cool skies of Southern California, I can’t help but feel sorry for those of you sweltering in the heartland, and up and down the East Coast. The fact that 143 MILLION Americans are under a heat advisory compelled me to offer you two summer recipes guaranteed to keep the heat at bay. Mint tea (made with FRESH spearmint), as many of you know, is the national drink of Morocco. Serve it over ice and feel instantly refreshed. And a velvety smooth fresh tomato bisque from Andalucia!

Iced Atay b’na’na

 1 tablespoon loose Chinese green tea leaves

6 cups boiling water

1 large bunch fresh spearmint (Mentha spicata) rinsed under running water

Sugar, to taste

Mint leaves, for garnish

Place green tea in a teapot. Add boiling water. Steep 2-3 minutes. Stuff the mint inside the pot. Steep for a few minutes. Add sugar, to taste. Let cool. Serve over ice.

 Kitty’s Salmorejo

inspired by the one we had in Cadiz (Spain)

 I fell head over heels for salmorejo, a cold tomato bisque thickened with stale bread (and white bread at that!), when my husband and I spent a few days in Cadiz, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula. Our days were spent exploring the nooks and crannies of this historic walled town (with a distinct Moorish flair) stopping whenever we could to devour thick slices of crusty bread topped with jamon y queso manchego. Three consecutive evenings found us at the same restaurant, sipping cups of velvety smooth salmorejo, the local version of Spanish gazpacho. On our third visit, the chef stopped by our table to welcome us, and at my urging,  shared his technique for making the delectable soup. Here is my adaptation—pure ambrosia when made with homegrown, over-ripe tomatoes.

Serves 4

 1 cup torn, soft white bread (such as two dinner rolls)

1/4 broth or water

4 large, ripe tomatoes (1 ½ to 2 lbs), peeled, and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup sherry (optional)

1 to 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (optional)

3 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped (optional)

Edible flower such as society garlic, for garnish

In a bowl, soak bread in broth until soft.

In a blender, in batches, combine soaked bread and broth, tomatoes, garlic, sherry (if using), rice vinegar, olive oil, and salt.

Blend until velvety smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a little broth or water if mixture is too thick.

Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until well chilled.

Just before serving, test the soup for salt. Thin out with a little broth, water, or tomato water if desired. Ladle into small bowls, garnish with chopped eggs, prosciutto, or edible flower, and serve.

Buen provecho!

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A Biblical Feast for Easter or Passover

       My new book is finding a niche in a number of stores from Southern California, to Wisconsin, Illinois, New York City, and even, south of the border.  For that, I am most grateful You can, of course, always order it on this site, and now, on Amazon.com as well.

       With Easter and Passover fast approaching, a biblical menu seems in order. One of the biblical ingredients I love to eat, is leeks. Especially the pencil thin "poireau" that I sometime purchase at our local farmer’s market, or more often, when I am in Morocco.

     The large leeks we find in US are ideally suited for making soup (green fronds included, though discarded before serving), or to make leek quiche (if you slice them finely enough), but nothing beats the slender leeks for the following dish. You can follow the leeks with Dukkah (sesame/nigella/cumin sprinkle),with bread and olive oil, for dipping; Roasted Lamb with Cumin; flat bread; and for dessert, Dates Stuffed with Almond Paste, or Sephardic style Harosset, made with dates.

 from A Biblical Feast: Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table. 

Leeks with Olive Oil, Vinegar
& Mustard Seed

(Serves 4)

It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took,
and cast into his garden;
and it grew, and waxed a great tree;
and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
Luke 13:19

 

 

Photography Owen Morse c. 2009



4 or 5 slender leeks

(the slenderest you can find)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon mustard seeds, toasted

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 sprigs parsley, minced

     Trim leeks and rinse under running water. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Cook leeks until very soft, 10-15 minutes. Drain and place in a serving dish. Using a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder, finely grind mustard seeds. In a small bowl, blend vinegar and mustard seeds. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon dressing over leeks and garnish with parsley.

 

Enjoy!

Bitter Orange Salad/Salad d’Oranges Amères

In answer to the e-Newsletter I sent out at the beginning of February, I received this lovely letter from  Danielle Avidan, a follower of this website. She was kind enough to contribute this recipe.

She writes: “My grandmother used a heavy earthenware container, but it can be prepared in an ordinary salad bowl, even a terrine (ça se garde très bien au refrigerateur!)"

 Bitter oranges appetizer

 3 large bitter oranges (Seville oranges) or 4 medium ones

About 10 to 2 black olives, preferably the ‘wrinkled’ ones from Morocco that can be found in Persian markets;

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/2 tsp paprika, or more if you like;

1/4 tsp cumin;

1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional);

3 (or 4) T Canola or grapeseed oil (do not to substitute olive oil!)

Salt and white pepper to taste.


Pit olives. Peel oranges, and cut in small cubes. Remove seeds. Thoroughly mix all ingredients in an earthenware bowl or ordinary salad bowl. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Adjust seasonings before serving at room temperature.

Note: The longer you keep it the better it tastes! This can accompany any meat, chicken or fish dish, as a first course, or can be served with other ‘salads’ such as beet, eggplant, carrot etc..



Merci Danielle!

 Tita, my own great-aunt and culinary mentor, often prepared a similar salad with the bitter, Seville oranges that we picked in Marrakech. My own version contains Valencia or Navels, dried Kalamata olives, and chopped red onion or diced fennel, depending upon the availability or the inspiration!