Category Archives: The Kasbah Chronicles

Monthly eNewsletter with updates, my appearances and book signings, and recipes, all having to do with Morocco or Moroccan cuisine. Do join me!

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The Kasbah Chronicles: May 2018, Vietnam (Part 1), Morocco, and more

The Kasbah Chronicles
(now in its 10th year!)
My Most Excellent Vietnam Adventure: Part 1

Has it really been 3 months since I last published The Kasbah Chronicles? You will soon understand why.

Contents:
On a “roll” in Vietnam
Dining à la Hitchcock
Feasting à la Marocaine in Oceanside (CA)
Presentations and book signings
My “mentee” graduates!
Links of interest
Morocco and beyond
BOOK CLUB BINGO IN SAN DIEGO!
Get a special discount and come meet 22 nationally known authors.

Shopping in Hanoi

 Musings:
Yes, I have been on a roll. . .A Vietnamese egg roll that is..
This will explain my tardiness: I spent 3 weeks in Vietnam in April. Thus, March was spent preparing for the trip, in April I ATE MY WAY THROUGH VIETNAM from North to South, and May finds me roaming the aisles of local Asian markets to locate the ingredients with which to prepare my newly acquired recipes!

My travels will take up at least two editions of The Kasbah Chronicles. .. so please stay tuned for Part 2.

At a zillion dongs (actually 22,000 to the dollar)

how could we go wrong? Vietnam is fascinating, welcoming, and affordable. As I did when went I travelled to Chile two years ago, I planned my own tour using Asiatica.com,a Hanoi-based tour operator found on the Internet. China Southern Airlines(discovered while perusing Trip Advisor) flew Amy and me (a most compatible roommate), in cocooned comfort (business class), from LAX to Hanoi and return. As I mentioned above, my requests to our dedicated agent, Phoebe, of Asiatica, was to forego war memorials, tunnels, and war museums. All we wanted were cooking classes, markets, and local eateries… Boy, did she deliver! If you want suggestions for our itinerary, shoot me an email.(oops, I almost forgot to mention we also spent 2 days in Angkor Watt.…)

My photos tell part of the story:
Hanoi:Hectic, fun, historic, and better yet, food, food, food… Great cooking class with a local instructor in her home, a farm house outside Hanoi. Mandy (www.cookinginhanoi.wordpress.com) taught us all about crab soup and la lotleaves. Can’t wait to find some here!

 

la lot leaves eggrolls:


and an exquisite salad of fresh banana blossom

Hanoi has a mosque!

We soldiered on under a warmish rain through the insanely busy narrow streets of Old Hanoi, past dozens of pocket-sized shops. Shades of a Moroccan souk came to mind. The merchandise was quite different however. When saturation set in signaling an empty stomach, we dashed into a stall to sit in child-sized plastic chairs (they are everywhere and adults usually occupy them…) While a trio of Hanoi teens fingered their cell phones, out came a young woman bearing a hotpot, the local version of French pot-au-feu. We were wrapped in a cloud of star anise, cinnamon, lemon grass, and cilantro, and dipped into the pot with chopsticks to retrieve butter-tender pork shoulder, vegetables and bits of fresh pineapple. And, to cap it off, an addictive blend of salt, lime juice, and chili (I think).

Ha Long Bay: Phoebe asked if we wanted to cruise on Halong Bay. Why not? She booked us onto into a Jr suite with Signature Halong Bay Cruise. Our young cruise manager, Mr. Cuong, fretted over us like a mother hen:

Our bathroom came complete with a JACCUZI! For close to 24 hours (I wish it had been 48) we cruised among the dozens of tree-capped islands of Halong Bay,

and dined on dishes worthy of an A list restaurant.

Sara, the on-board hostess, doubled as our cooking teacher to demonstrate nems, REAL Vietnamese eggrolls. Les vrais!

Hue:
The next day, a short flight out of Hanoi landed us in Hue, site of Vietnam’s historic Imperial City. Upon landing, our driver took us straight to Eco Garden,so we could experience life on a farm.
Have you ever tried to grind rice? It ain’t easy! We tilled the earth for sweet potatoes and enjoyed the fruits of our labor during an al fresco cooking class held under a riverfront cabana. Cycling among the lush banana and pumelo groves surrounding the Eco Garden really increased our appetite.

We were pointed to Hanh restaurant near our hotel. Our lunch encompassed such an array of local specialties, that Amy and I coined a new logo for them, When in Hue, head for Hanh’s, a strictly local hang out, where we joined the cook in the open kitchen to watch her prepare eggrolls, dumplings,  pho… and my very favorite rice pancakes: you get the idea.

Our four hour drive from Hue toHoi Antook us along the Mandarin Road, and past Danang’s bayfront. This industrial city caters mainly to foreign sun-worshippers who stay in the resorts out of town.

Hoi An and its centuries of Chinese occupation beckoned an hour south. The town’s architecture still reflects this influence.

he pedestrian friendly city center is jammed with stores and restaurants, including the most unusual Reaching Out Tea House, run by a deaf staff. It was heavenly sitting overlooking a tiny patio without any auditory distractions. (Yes, they have WI FI.)

Hoin An holds other attractions, including eating a superb banh misandwich at Mme Phuong(like Anthony Bourdain). I am happy to say, however, North San Diego County now has a plethora of Vietnamese restaurants to choose from, many of which make mouth-watering banh mis.

Ah, that cooking class at Mme. Vy’s: UNFORGETTABLE (https://tastevietnam.asia/vietnamese-cooking-classes). 5 hours of culinary bliss, instructed by a professional chef, and her numerous assistants. This extraordinary establishment holds much more than a state of the art culinary center. Street level holds a huge dining area surrounded by tasting stations… so many samplings, so little time (read more about them on my website www.kittymorse.com)from a guided boat ride and market excursion, to a variety of samplings too numerous to name: snails, banh mi, freshly made noodles, breads and pastries. My head still swims. We were told that Mme Vy is in the process of exporting her concept to Melbourne! Dear Australians, DO NOT MISS IT!
. . . . suite au prochain numéro.
Read the next edition of The Kasbah Chronicles for more on my Vietnamese experience.

My instructor at Mme Vy’s:

 

I already mentioned that we have a well-stocked Vietnamese market in the North County, in Escondido (CA). San Diego cooks will head to the enormous Zion supermarket on Convoy Street, but we live further north. La Sorpresa Barata(asianmarketescondido.com) has morphed into The Asian Marketbetween Fig and Date streets(. . .and that’s the story of immigrants…) Next door is an excellent little Vietnamese take out restaurant.

How cool is this request?!

When I was growing up in Casablanca we couldn’t wait for Hitchcock’s films to be screened in English at cinema Rialto. One of my favorites was The Man Who Knew Too much.

“New comment on my post “Kitty’s Bio”
Author: merri mullaney

“Hi, I have just purchased a tagine, can’t wait to start cooking. There is one recipe I have searched for, sounds crazy, but in the movie “the man who knew too much” there is one scene that takes place in a restaurant in Casablanca (K: it was Marrakech, I think). The chicken and olives and other ingredients looked absolutely delicious and beautiful. Is there a recipe for this dish, and also the bread served with it?”

-I think the restaurant Merri is referring to was Dar Es Salam in Marrakech where my annual tours used to dine in the mid 1980s, (http://www.daressalam.com) average food and very, very touristy) but the scene where James Stewart struggles to fit his long legs under the low table is priceless. I haven’t seen the film in years, but if they featured a Moroccan dish, it had to be Chicken with Preserved Lemons! Does anyone know??”

Presentations and book signings:
I will be happy to plan a presentation on Moroccan cuisine or edible flowers, for your book club or garden club. Just send me an email.

May: Private book club/dinner in Oceanside, CA.
I was flattered to be asked to speak to this Oceanside book club, one that has been meeting for 20 years. This time, rather than gather at someone’s house, the group planned a Moroccan dinner based on the recipes in Mint Tea and Minarets and Cooking at the Kasbah, at one of North County’s BEST patisseries, Petite Madeline(sic), (www.petitemadelinebakery.com) just about as far north as you can drive on the Coast Highway in San Diego County. I knew I was in good hands when Chef Marc Mialo said he obtained his culinary training in Australia, where, I hasten to add, they SELL MOROCCAN PRESERVED lemons in every deli! Australians love Morocco’s cuisine, something I found out when I visited over 15 years ago.
La Petite Madelinereopened for us past their 3PM closing to welcome the book club. Once dinner began, we were treated to mouth-watering renditions of a trio of cooked and fresh salads,

 Chakchouka

kefta(ground beef) kabobs seasoned just right, baraniyaeggplant and tomato tagine, with dates stuffed with almond paste, orange slices in orange blossom water ( all found in Mint Tea and Minaretsand Cooking at the Kasbah) AND ice cream bestila for dessert filled with the chef’s own lemon mousse (WOW!) I demonstrated how to make traditional Moroccan mint tea. At this writing, I am lobbying for this gifted and imaginative young chef, and for the restaurant’s owner, Christine, to add a couple of these dishes to their regular menu. . . Chef Marc would probably duplicate the menu if Morocco’s cuisine (and Mint Tea and Minarets!!!) figure on your reading list.(www.petitemadelinebakery.com) and I’ll be happy to come and chat!

Saturday, June 10: 9-5PM.
Book Club Bingo
San Diego’s spectacular central library
300 Park Blvd.,
Special Events Room, 9th Floor
San Diego 92101
MENTION THE KASBAH CHRONICLES OR KITTY MORSE FOR A SPECIAL DISCOUNT.
Call Adventures by the Book at 619-300-2532 and mention
KITTY’s name and you will obtain  a $25 discount
Book Club Bingo, a day-long LITERARY EVENT takes place at San Diego’s spectacular central library. All proceeds from book sales go to the library. 22 authors from around the country, all of whom are excited to connect with book clubs, will participate in seminars, panels, and book signing opportunities.
http://adventuresbythebook.com/autherevent/book-club-bingo-adventure
and
https://novelnetwork.com/home-author-connect

Saturday, July 7th: 11-1PM
A Taste of Morocco. Free and open to the public
Poway Branch Library
13137 Poway Rd, Poway, CA 92064
(858) 513-2900
contact: karen.baluyot@sdcounty.ca.gov

A GRADUATION:

My mentee, Laura, graduated from Cal State University San Marcos, where, last Fall, I had the honor of being selected as a mentor. Last week, Laura gave the commencement address to 600 grads in the college of Humanities, Art and Behavioral and Social Sciences! I had attended the opening of this latest Cal State campus in 1992 with 2000 students. . . It now counts 45,000 alumni. Go Laura! If you live in San Diego County and you want to know more about this fabulous mentoring program, shoot me an email.

Links of interest about Morocco and beyond:
VIDEO:

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180215-the-north-african-breakfast-that-ended-a-war?
To makebaghrir, semolina flour pancakes, one of my favorite Moroccan breakfast foods, see Mint Tea and Minarets page 246. Serve with honey or apricot jam!

Moroccan oudmusic in San Diego:
I hired this duo for a party, and I can recommend them Alexi Rabay . (619) 250-4531.alexicanhelpyou@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIMAEflWPq8

Who “invented” couscous?”: A diplomatic quandary
https://lepetitjournal.com/maghreb-une-labellisation-du-couscous-moins-anodine-quil-ny-parait-223227
“Slimane Hachi, directeur du Centre algérien de recherches préhistoriques, anthropologiques et historiques (CNRPAH) et promoteur du projet, a précisé à la radio algérienne que l’initiative devrait réunir Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Libye, Mauritanie et même Mali,.. . »

Tangia:See Mint Tea and MInarets, page 124
http://www.bbc.com/travel/gallery/20170811-the-moroccan-dish-heated-by-a-hammam
Yes, it’s true, many families (including me, when I am in Azemmour) cook tangiain the glowing coals of the baker’s oven which is usually adjacent to the hammam. Tangiais great for entertaining, as it can be made the day before (I use a slow cooker.) Sorry, I haven’t practiced with the Instant Pot yet! View my recipe in Mint Tea and Minaretspage 124.

Your Next Serving of Truffles Should Be From Oregon
https://www.ozy.com/good-sht/your-next-serving-of-truffles-should-be-from-oregon/85111
Of course: We have it all, right here, in the US. The Beaver State is serving up fancy fungi that might be just as good as the imported varieties.

“Food for thought” à la française:
https://france-amerique.com/fr/is-francophonie-part-of-france-colonial-heritage/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017)

Concerned about California’s Water history?
Rita Schmidt Sudman’sis an expert on the subject.
and a long time observer of the California water scene. She led the Water Education Foundation for over 30 years. Her insight into the historic and current water conflicts provides context for the past and solutions and answers for the future. Hers is an anthology in art, history and story. https://watermoreorless.com
 
Les alligators en Louisianne:
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-last-cajun/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017
« Voilà un gros », lance-t-il en français. « Lui, il a plus que trois mètres. » Dans la direction qu’il désigne, sur un tronc d’arbre à demi-submergé, sommeille un alligator. Tous les jours, de février à octobre, il emmène jusqu’à 66 personnes en excursion sur le lac . . .

Need a graduation gift? I ship books!

As always,
Bismillah
and
Bon Appétit..

Tune in next time for Vietnam edition, #2…

The Kasbah Chronicles Feb 2018 edition: It’s the process

The Kasbah Chronicles
February 2018 edition

 Happy Valentine’s DayCONTENTS:
Musings:
Note to self: It’s the process. . . .stoopid….

Last call for Niki de St Phalle
at the Escondido Center for the Arts.

I am off to Vietnam in April:
any insights or special addresses to share?

It’s happening!  Edible Flowers: a Kitchen Companion is now an eBook.
Download through Amazon.com

Kitty’s presentations and bookings:
LIFE, Mira Costa College
Poway Library
Does your club or group need a speaker this summer? Call me!

Bravo to my creative colleagues: Nan, Susan and Naz

Travel: News of Morocco and beyond

A world of local food from Peru to Mexico and Vietnam
Pisco Restaurant Review

A reader’s insights on the InstantPot pressure cooker.

Musings:

As I muse…. and sifted through eFiles, I realized with a start that The Kasbah Chronicles is now entering its tenth year. Pas croyable. Ten years of sharing news of San Diego County, Morocco, and beyond. Whatever made me think, à l’origine, that anyone would read it? And read it some of you do, judging from your encouraging feedback. For me, a great part of sharing this information comes down to . . . It’s the process….stoopid...: Why am I compelled to jot words on “paper,” electronic or otherwise. I can’t explain! Neck ache, backache and all, typing standing up… I love sharing my musings with all of you. So merci and thank you for reading.

Last call for Niki de St Phalle exhibit!!
I have been going on and on about the Niki de St Phalle exhibit at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, a milestone for the center. The show celebrates the 15th year of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle (www.queencalifia.org) the only public park of its kind in the US. The show ends on March 4th, so hurry and call up to make a reservation for a docent-led tour. The exhibit is paired with A Mosaic Invitational, featuring masterful mosaic works by local artists. Speaking of mosaics, did you know: San Diego Historic Tile and Ceramics Self Guided Tour map showcases mosaics from Balboa Park and Downtown with sites from the House of Hospitality to Little Italy.
It was my pleasure to introduce Niki and her nanas to high school students from La Jolla Country Day last week… best of all EN FRANCAIS!!
View the video here:
 https://www.facebook.com/theCCAE/videos/10155444625709370/
Instagram :  https://www.instagram.com/theccae/
To book a tour contact Arts Education Program Supervisor, Kirsten Barrientes at 760-839-4176 or kbarrientes@artcenter.org

Eva Struble, a professor in the school of Art and Design at San Diego State, was invited to show her work in conjunction with the exhibit. Cover Crops reflects her interest in San Diego County farms. Eva’s talk, free and open to the public, was co-sponsored by Edible San Diego magazine http://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com. The show reflects two of my own passions: one for art (food of course) and the other for California farms. Coastal Roots, Solidarity, and Terra Madre farms were her inspiration.

Visit Edible San Diego magazine’s excellent website for up to date information on San Diego’s food scene: http://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com/drink/guide-wineries-san-diego-county

Please share with your friends:
Exciting news on the book front: Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion is now an eBook, easily downloaded on Amazon. If the book isn’t up yet, please try again. I am dealing with a national distributor in Chicago. https://www.amazon.com/Edible-Flowers-Companion-Kitty-Morse-ebook

Classes and presentations;
Do you know about L.I.F.E, LEARNING IS FOR EVERYONE, a program of lifelong learning at Mira Costa College? If not, here is their site http://www.miracosta.edu/community/LIFE. I will be the featured speaker on edible flowers, on Friday, Match 16th. Free and open to the public

I will be at the Poway Library in July…I am available for speaking engagements throughout the summer from May 2018 on (after my trip to Vietnam.)

About Morocco and beyond:
An encouraging economic update for Morocco:
http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/the-new-emerging-african-power-morocco/83279

The fastest train in Africa zips through the Moroccan countryside.
http://fr.le360.ma/economie/video-le-maroc-bat-le-record-de-vitesse-sur-rail-en-afrique-154175

Should couscous be classified as a World Heritage item? Mais oui, bien sûr.
https://lepetitjournal.com/casablanca/actualites/couscous-bientot-au-patrimoine-mondial-de-lunesco-222918

GOOD news for travelers. US State Dept says  Morocco is among the safest, alongside Canada, Norway etc, . . . https://lepetitjournal.com/casablanca/actualites/voyage-le-maroc-parmi-les-pays-surs-des-americains-222934

Pour les voyageurs américains, le gouvernement de Washington a classé les pays du monde en quatre catégories : ‘‘Pays considérés comme sûrs’’, ‘‘Pays où la prudence est recommandée’’, ‘‘Etes-vous sûrs de vouloir visiter ce pays’’ et ‘‘Vous allez dans ce pays à vos risques et périls’’. Et le Maroc figure dans le 1ère catégorie en compagnie de pays comme le Canada, Islande, Norvège, Suède, Finlande, Irlande, Monaco, Suisse, Liechtenstein… Quant aux voisins algériens, tunisiens et égyptiens, ils figurent dans la catégorie ‘‘Pays où la prudence est recommandée’’.

Why I LOVE love Spain! It’s almost HOME!! And their manchego? The cheese in Spain stays mainly in the . . . .
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/15/spain-mexico-trade-deal-manchego-cheese-dispute?

Meawhile, camels (really dromedaries) take part in a Saudi beauty contest:
https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-01-26/what-camel-beauty-contest-can-tell-us-about-future-saudi-arabia?

and in Hollywood, les français et les Oscars: La French touch aux Oscars, NINE French-inspired nominations. . .
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-french-touch-at-the-oscars/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017)
and
Bessie Coleman: les ailes noires en France
https://france-amerique.com/fr/bessie-coleman-black-wings-over-france/

Ca alors, what next for the French language??
https://lepetitjournal.com/leila-slimani-mme-francophonie-de-macron-veut-deringardiser-le-francais-220888
Leïla Slimani, “Mme Francophonie” de Macron, veut “déringardiser le français” (wants to update the French language), and make it one of the top three languages in the world. .
‘Le français “pourrait” en effet devenir la deuxième langue internationale, derrière l’anglais. Elle est la quatrième aujourd’hui, devancée par l’espagnol et l’arabe. Mais cela ne pourra être que “si les efforts en faveur de l’éducation des pays francophones sont suffisants”,

Ever wonder about air kissing? Pourquoi se fait-on la bise ?
https://lepetitjournal.com/shanghai/communaute/bise-pourquoi-france
La bise est une coutume typiquement française ( a French custom). . . .

Anthony Bourdain’s reading list is eclectic!

Check out my creative colleagues:
Sally Bernstein and her newsletter:
http://www.sallybernstein.com/food/chefs-corner/mailorder_books.htm

Nan Sterman, host of A Growing Passion (http://agrowingpassion.com) on KPBS holds classes around the county to help you jump start your spring plantings. Join Nan for a hands-on workshop where you will plant your entire summer vegetable garden in just two hours. Nan provides the supplies – you take home the plants seeded and ready to sprout info@PlantSoup.com

Susan McBeth, the brainchild behind Adventures by the Book, whose mission is to link authors and readers, launches a nationwide adventure: NovelNetwork… https://novelnetwork.com/author-membership/
Book clubs, register to find an author/speaker. Authors, register to let book clubs know you are available as a speaker.

After founding a company that paired consumers with farmers around the county, Naz Athina Kallel, is launching a “Craigs List” for food lovers. Save Good Food http://savegoodfood.com is San Diego’s Food & Beverages Classifieds for Farms, Chefs, Brewers, Winemakers and Artisan Food Makers. Chefs, farmers, fishermen, ranchers, restaurant owners, artisan food & beverage makers, brewers, wine makers, event planners, purveyors will find a powerful social platform for buying, selling, collaborating and investing in local food. First 3 months free and then only $10 per month for unlimited ads for sellers. Buyers always free.

My new favorite snack:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts


One restaurant  Happy Hour featured these addictive sprouts, all for the unbelievably “low price” of $7.99. $7.99? I decided to make them myself:
Buy Brussels Sprouts
Trim outer leaves
Cut sprouts in half
Parboil in boiling water 1 to 2 mns
Drain
Pour into a large baking dish
Sprinkle with olive oil and garlic
Roast for 25 minutes, turning once.
Snack. (Better than chocolate truffles, and lo-cal)

San Diego’s multicultural North County:
No need to drive down to San Diego’s Asian shopping district on Convoy Street. Just head to 840 East Valley Parkway to find Cho Viet Nam (aka: The Asian Market and formerly La Sorpresa Barata, don’t you love it) a large market stocking Asian specialties. The adjoining take out, So’n Tra, offers excellent banh mi sandwiches, authentic and flavorful eggrolls much like the “nem” I grew up on in Casablanca (there is a thriving French speaking Vietnamese community in Morocco.)

And for good measure, a new Peruvian restaurant opened in the North County, off Palomar Airport Road, close to Legoland CA. Pisco took over the space Sammy’s Pizza occupied, and has the same owner. I have never met Sammy Ladecky but that man has a palate that never misses. The first time I tasted his roast chicken, I knew the flavorings were Middle Eastern. This time, he heads south: Pisco is named for the national drink of Peru (and Chile, depending upon who you talk to), and Peruvian flavors fill the menu. From excellent Chicken Empanadas, and leche de Tigre… an excellent ceviche, though, in my view, lacking in the bolder flavors of “our” Mexican ceviches. I sampled a Peruvian ceviche in Chile (where Peruvian cuisine is considered “haute”) and noticed the same thing. I loved Pisco’s papas a la huancaina, and the classic drink of Pisco Sour with crème de banane and strawberry puree tastes like dessert. A riot of a treat for anyone having a birthday is a MOUNTAIN of cotton candy. Definitely a place to try. However, I will not abandon the old Sammy’s and its terrific thin-crusted pizzas. www.piscorotisserie.com

Aren’t we cosmopolitan?!
Egypt comes to Quail Botanic Gardens: UNTIL MARCH 31, 2018 at the San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024
For the second year, the tapestries from the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre in Egypt will be on display. The Egyptian artists vividly celebrate the flowers of the desert, villages, and Nile River in their work . . . Fifteen wool tapestries and twenty cotton weavings will be on display in the Ecke Building at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. Admission/Cost: $14

Reprinted with permission:
Joy, a longtime Kasbah Chronicle reader allowed me to reprint this letter. She is an advocate of the new Instant pot, an implement which I have not even SEEN yet! Some of you may find her input of interest. This is a SERIOUS cook who makes her OWN MOROCCAN OUARKA dough!

Date: Mon, January 01, 2018 9:55 am
To: info@mintteaandminarets.com
Happy New Year, Kitty! Thanks for another wonderful year of Moroccan email goodies.
 I am now the owner of 2 electric pressure cookers, a Power Pressure Cooker 10 quart for the last year or so, and an Instant Pot 8 quart (for this Christmas). A most wonderful 7+ vegetable Berber Tagine recipe I saw on YouTube comes out perfect in about 5 minutes or less. For the chicken variation I brown the chicken first so it is at least half cooked because raw chicken pieces cook in 10 minutes and I don’t want the veggies to be over done, so if I brown them first it is all finished in 5 minutes or less. Yum!!!
You have mentioned in the past that modern Moroccan cooks often resort to their pressure cookers. Perhaps this year on Kasbah Chronicles you could share some recipes using that technique as it is done in Morocco. Of course the Moroccan cookers are probably stovetop versions, but the new electric cookers are amazing doing things that stovetop cookers can’t do because stovetops take more water to run them and the pressures are higher than an electric cooker. For the electric cookers, think “baked” ziti put in dry out of the box and yummy cheesy goodness after an 8 minute cycle (also lasagna with normal noodles dry out of the box), perfect hard boiled eggs on a 6 minute cycle, soups in 10-15 minutes, dry beans without soaking in 15-40 minutes, steamed flans in 15-20 min etc etc. 5 minutes was a little too long for my pre-browned chicken tagine, 4 minutes would have been better.
If you don’t have one of these yet, it will revolutionize your life in the kitchen. I would suggest the Instant Pot or the Power Pressure Cooker (“PPXL”), both run at the same psi pressure ranges 10.2-11.6 and around 7.2. but the PPXL also has a 3.2 psi slow cooker cycle. The Instant Pots default to the higher pressure settings for their presets, and the PPXL defaults to the lower pressure settings for their presets which I like better, but either can be done with either. All the presets are just different times for the default psi’s. High pressure on the PPXL is the “Canning cycle”, the Instant Pot allows to choose high or low pressure with a pressure toggle button, but the result is the same.  Many other electric cookers default to 5psi and 10 psi which is not as versatile and takes lots longer. If you already have one, share with us some Moroccan pressure cooker faves!
J.

The Kasbah Chronicles

COUSCOUS, TAGINES AND ART

My wish for you for 2018:
A year filled with crimson sunrises, such as this glorious sunrise in Vista, captured from our rooftop terrace.

 

To art lovers and couscous aficionados:
Thank you so much for remaining on the The Kasbah Chronicles email list. It never occurred to me, when I began to write it in December 2007, that so many of you would remain faithful readers 10 years on. Merci, and Thank you all.
I LOVE GETTING YOUR FEEDBACK!

Contents:
Niki de St Phalle exhibit in Escondido (CA)
Presentation to the Culinary Historians of San Diego

As I mentioned in previous Chronicles, I am now a docent at the Escondido Center for the Arts (http://artcenter.org) which is proud to present an exhibit featuring 50 works by internationally renowned Franco-American artist and sculptor Niki de St Phalle (http://nikidesaintphalle.org) Some of you may have noticed one of her “nanas” jutting out of the fountain adjoining the Pompidou Center in Paris. The Pompidou has nothing on Escondido however! See how fortunate are we:
(https://timesofsandiego.com/arts/ Serpent Tree) etc. . .  by Niki de Saint Phalle (http://www.escondido.org/queen-califias-magical-circle.aspx)
Niki lived in La Jolla, CA (la “Riviera” américaine) during the latter part of her life and left an kaleidoscopic legacy of private and public works to the county of San Diego. Escondido is fortunate to shelter the only public “garden” she created in the United States: Queen Califia’s Magical Circle (behind Kit Carson Park in Escondido, CA, open special hours only) now a destination for art lovers from around the world.
(http://Niki Charitable Art Foundation)
The show lasts from January 12 to March 4, 2018. A Public Opening Reception will take place on Friday, January 12, 2018 from 6:00-7:30 PM.  Fee: $10 non-members includes light bites and a no-host bar.
(http://artcenter.org/event/opening-niki-de-saint-phalle-mythical-california)

Visite en français: Pourquoi pas?
Amis et amies francophones, professeurs de francais, etudiants et francophiles, je serai ravie de vous faire faire une visite guidee DE GROUPE en langue française.
Teachers and students of French, French conversation classes, or private French conversation groups, why not view the exhibit with a French-speaking guide? I would be delighted to oblige. GROUPS ONLY. Reservation required. Contact:
Kirsten Barrientes
Arts Education Program Supervisor
California Center for the Arts, Escondido
kbarrientes@artcenter.org
Tel: (760) 839-4176

MOROCCO ON THE MENU
JOIN ME Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 10:30AM

and the Culinary Historians of San Diego
(https://www.culinaryhistoriansofsandiego.com/public-meetings.html)
for Couscous and Tagines: a History,
Neil Morgan Auditorium of San Diego’s
Central Library (accessible by trolley)
330 Park Boulevard, SD
Free and open to the public
Couscous happens to be my FAVORITE comfort food.
which I covered in my  book,
Couscous: Fresh and Flavorful (Chronicle Books)
I hope to see you at one of the events

The weather is topsy-turvy and so is the world.
Let’s hope it’ll turn back upright in 2018.
PS: Overheard during our daily walk at Oceanside (CA) Harbor
“Every year, I stress about it and I don’t know why. . . “

My advice:
Don’t stress
But if you must
at least KNOW THE REASON WHY!!

I am still picking the most luscious tomatoes of the year.
My poor plants do not know anymore what season it is.
December 30th crop

Bismillah, Bon Appétit,
and
Bonne Année!
Kitty

The Kasbah Chronicles June 2017

Our lives have taken on a different turn since I wrote this blog in late June. My mother left us on July 11, 2017, two days before her 94th birthday, July 13th, 2017.

Her last two months were spent at home, with us. It was a privilege to be able to take care of her, and to be with her until the end. This photo was taken on her 93rd birthday. To you, maman. To us. I miss you.

 

 

The Kasbah Chronicles

June and July 2017

CONTENTS

A FRENCH ESCAPADE (Part 2)

Vienna and Nice

(Part 3: Unforgettable Toulouse and more Paris)

Musings:

Vienna

Luxuriating in chocolate decadence at Demmel’s,

HOP from Vienna to Nice

Mes vols HOP!

Nice

Lunch in Ventimiglia

. . . and much more

 

News you can use

My favorite salsa for summer

Bookings for presentations

News of Morocco and beyond

Les News en français

Update:

Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued

(Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories)

 

Dateline: Vista, Vienna and Nice

Musings:

A little French verse, “Le bonheur est dans le pré, cours-y vite, cours-y vite, makes me appreciate my own backyard, but it doesn’t stop me from sharing my far away French, Viennese, Italian, and Toulouse adventures. Here is part 2: RETURN FOR PART 3 NEXT MONTH!

A visit to Vienna was inspired by three books partially set in that fabled city: The People of the Book (extraordinary), The Hare with Amber Eyes (superb), and Monuments Men (inspiring to say the least). I had forgotten how “compact” Europe is! A little over an hour’s flight took me from Paris to Vienna, and I was still in the same time zone!

Since I was staying a little out of the city center, I had to take the train, then the bus to reach the pulsating heart of Vienna, the pedestrian only Stephanplatz, site of St Stephan’s Cathedral and its multicolored tiles (www.stephansdom.at.) All well and good and beautiful, but absolutely swamped with tourists.

To escape the crush, I ducked into Restaurant Haas and Hass (http://www.haas-haas.at.) behind the cathedral and sought refuge under a colorful umbrella. The “traditional” noodle soup and smoked fish platter the waitress recommended were rather tasteless and overpriced, but the intimate courtyard was an ideal spot for lunch. That same evening, my hosts, my cousin Helene and her husband Dr. Rainer Claus, an indie publisher himself (https://sites.google/site/editions sonnberg,) longtime Vienna residents, knew just where to take me for an authentic Austrian tafelsptiz. This cross between a French pot-au-feu and a Chinese hot pot is the specialty of Plachutta on the Wollzeille (http://www.plachutta.at.) We spent a balmy evening on the terrace, retrieving various cuts of beef and vegetables from the delicate beef broth, and happily consuming Viennese sausage and sautéed cabbage. Love that Viennese tradition!

Again to evade the hordes on St Stephan Square the next day, I turned my back on the nearby Lipizzaner horse stables, the Sisi museum, and stores spewing authentic Austrian souvenirs made in China. I lusted after more sausages. I followed the wide pedestrian mall past the Vienna Opera house to the Naschmarkt, a market in business since the 16th century. (http://www.naschmarkt-vienna.com)

Up and down along the Naschmarkt’s bustling aisles lined with dozens of stands offering Turkish pastries, Turkish preserves and otherwise exotic dumplings, spices and fruits. But where was my sausage? I finally stumbled upon a REAL Austrian sausage maker.

Casting aside my half-nibbled candied hibiscus blossom, I binged on an enormous sandwich oozing mustard. Well, half of a sandwich anyway. Nothing like fusion sampling! I must admit that the sausages in Milwaukee (WI), our quintessential US German city, were tastier than the one in Vienna. No matter. The experience was worth it.

I needed to walk off massive amounts of calories, and retraced my steps towards St Stephan Square and a plaza lined with tour buses. A barker lured me with a “Wanna go to the Schønnbrun Palace?” Why not? A chat with him revealed we were both from Casablanca. That was good for a 5 euro discount! The tour highlighted the royal bedchambers with their gilt ceilings, and hand-painted wallpaper but the poor emperors’ totally public way of life was in no way appealing. As I stepped outside the palace, a lone mime in Mozart costume was singing Beatles tunes. I captured my selfie with “Mozart.”

I decided to forego a slice of the “original” sacher torte at the Hotel Sacher, simply because a line of hungry tourists snaked out the door. My heart and my stomach were set on pastries, so upon returning to Vienna’s navel, the platz, I sought out Demmel’s, one of the world’s best-known pâtisseries.

The establishment seemed more gentile, the sort of place your grandmother would take for tea. The glassed-in pastry kitchen is a brilliant idea, allowing patrons to watch pâtissiers at work, on the extraordinary pastries and confections on display around the store. Their artistry made my mouth water, and I settled into one of the intimate salons with a chocolate soufflé smothered under a calving cliff of whipped cream. Bliss!

But the Côte d’Azur beckoned, with a flight on HOP, the new low-cost French airline operated by Air France (www.hop.com). The attendants actually offer you the day’s newspapers and free drinks! Incroyable!

 I mentioned in my previous edition of the Kasbah Chronicles that I took this trip to reconnect with childhood friends from Morocco. In Nice, Joelle, my “best” pal in école maternelle, was waiting for me at the airport. Though we hadn’t seen each other in 40 years, we resumed our conversation as though we had just parted ways the day before.

Joelle is also a terrific cook, and treated me to a platter of fromages and fine charcuterie (which she purchases in nearby Italy, funnily enough), canard confit and foie gras. How can I describe the ethereal flavors of her Consommé de Foie Gras, made of the most delicate chicken broth and the lightly poached foie gras peeking through. AMBROSIAL!

When in Nice don’t miss the beautiful Chagall Museum. The airy showcase holds some of the artist’s most colorful works. Or a ride along the Côte d’Azur (aka the French Riviera). The famed stretch of coastline stretches from Toulon to the east, to the Italian border to the west. Nice, its largest city, lies barely 29 kms from the Italian border. Indeed, many Niçois, including Joelle, frequent the weekly market in nearby Ventimiglia, Italy. Prices are lower, even though in euros.

Did I mention my lunch? The dish of home-made tagliatelle with vongole (clams) at Trattoria dei Pani, Via Roma, 16, was so subtle and light, unlike any I have eaten in the States. Was it the Italian air? I barely refrained from licking my plate.

No passport! No border! An empty building marks the spot. It is uncanny how you know you are in a different country as you cross the non-existent line. Apart from signs and sounds, a sort of Italian laissez faire in the air contrasts with the sterile high-rises of Monaco, or, as I dubbed it, Manhattan on the Med. This is the place where billionaires like to hang out? They can have it! Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara and La Jolla have it all over Monaco’s narrow, quasi-impassable winding streets and concrete high rises.

Joelle filled my belly with champagne, more foie gras, and a memorable tartiflette (scalloped potatoes and cream dish buried under a blanket of melted Reblochon cheese.) I practically waddled back to the airport, to catch my flight to Toulouse. And the “Ville Rose” (Pink City), a revelation to me, merits a Chronicle unto itself. Come back for the next installment!

 

Recipe

From my book, Couscous: Fresh and Flavorful (Chronicle Books, 1999) a favorite summer recipe:

Couscous Fritters with Fresh Corn and Tomato Salsa

Serves 4

2 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, finely diced, and drained

2 ears sweet corn, shucked and cooked (about 1 1/2 cups kernels)

15 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons finely diced onion

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ketchup

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup broth

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup couscous

1 egg, lightly beaten

Vegetable oil for frying

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

 

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, corn, half of the cilantro, the onion, lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon of the cumin, the ketchup, and salt. Set aside.

Prepare the fritters: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the broth, chili powder, butter, and remaining salt. Bring to a boil. Add the couscous in a stream. Stir once. Cover and remove from the heat. Set aside until the couscous is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and combine with the egg.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, pour vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat until a pinch of couscous sizzles instantly. Place the couscous mixture, in 1/3 cup increments, into the skillet. With a spatula, flatten into croquettes 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Fry until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Keep warm in the oven. Top each fritter with some salsa and serve!

Classes and presentations:

I am available for talks and presentations on edible flowers or Moroccan cuisine and culture

 

Books for sale: Need a gift? I’ll sign and send one of my books!

News of Morocco:

The modern Moroccan art scene is alive and well. Thanks to His Majesty Mohammed VI, Rabat now has its very own museum of modern art, a first in the Arab world. Learn more this is a very informative site. Artist Mahi Binebine and http://www.kawnculture.com

This was all over the news. I have travelled this road to Marrakech since childhood and look at what they unearthed.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jun/07/oldest-homo-sapiens-bones-ever-found-shake-foundations-of-the-human-story

You have to love this man: The Book Rescuer

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/05/bogota-bibliophile-trash-collector-rescues-books-170522084707682.html

Links of interests:

Cookbook lovers, head to:

. . a selection of cookbooks on Classics Cookbooks.

This collaborative exhibition draws from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s (MCASD) permanent collection, featuring works by beloved California artists.http://artcenter.org/event/california-connections-selections-museum-contemporary-art-san-diego-2/

Food find, in Rancho San Diego (about 50 mns from Vista) but worth the drive:

I have already told you about Sahara (2990 Jamacha Road, El Cajon), a family-run, Middle Eastern restaurant in Rancho San Diego. Fresh and home-made are key words here. We rarely drive far afield from the North County, but we regularly make our way to Rancho San Diego to fulfill our craving for their hummus and pickles, mouth-watering chicken tikka sandwiches, flatbreads baked in a stone oven, and excellent kibbe. Other Mid Eastern business occupy the strip mall including Pistachio Delights and Pastries (2999 Jamacha Road, Suite 102, El Cajon) where you will find a plethora of Mid Eastern pastries from baklava to knafa, freshly baked on site, and sip Turkish coffe.

North San Diego County readers:

Are you aware of the online newsletter, The Vista Press? The informative newsletter covers Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, and more. Send in your local news! Yours truly will have a periodic byline.

 

Kitty is selling: I will send you pictures and prices via email:

Moroccan artifacts:

Vintage Moroccan dagger made of carved bone inlaid with colored stones. Black woven silk rope.

Authentic Moroccan tagine pots, small and medium size (no shipping for these)

Copper items:

Vintage lamp base bought in Casablanca (red copper) about 24 inches tall, shaped like a vase.

Etched box with domed lid bought in Casablanca.

Copper (red copper) cooking pot with handle bought in Casablanca

and much more.

Until next month,

 

 

Our riad, Dar Zitoun/Dar Azema is up for sale

April 2017:

Dar Zitoun, Our historic riad, the subject of my memoir,

Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories is now up for sale.

Renamed Dar Azema for marketing purposes.

Please feel free to share the following link .

https://www.kensingtonmorocco.com/en/property-sales/azemmour/riads/dar-azema/

Thank you!