June and July 2018
LA VACHE QUI RIT IS EVERYWHERE!
A Vietnamese snack…
. . . more Vietnam adventures
When in Hue, head for Han’s
You missed a good one: Book Club Bingo and Novel Network
California Center for the Arts: Watercolor Show
Got art? Need frames?
Very, very cool: radio stations around the world
Cookbook collectors: get organized
Talks and presentations
Lots of interesting links en français
and in English
Tipping remains a mystery? Here’s help.
Spanish Potato Tortilla..with tomatoes
As I write, the 12 young soccer players and their coach have been extricated from that ghastly Thai cave. Thank Goodness the divers succeeded. The far away drama took our minds of dramatic political events closer to home. And then the peripatetic Anthony Bourdain decided to take his own life. I don’t know about you, but my brain is exhausted. What else is there to do but carry on!
Last month, I left you in Hanoi.. Today, let me take you to Hue:
This former Imperial City and now a World Heritage Site, lies midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon.) Its imposing Chinese Citadel suffered major damage during the “American War” and is undergoing extensive Unesco-funded restoration. Less known to the outside world, is that Hue is renowned for its cuisine. When in Hue, head for Han’s and sit down among the locals for a memorable lunch:
Then take part in Being like a farmer at Eco Garden. We began with a leisurely bicycle ride among orchards of pumelos and rice paddies of Thyu Bieu village a few miles outside of town.
After our bike escapade, we donned the outfits of a Vietnamese farmer, complete with brown baggy pants, loose shirt, and coolie hat, before trying our hands at milling rice. I tried in vain to manipulate the grindstone and sift the rice meal. . . not possible. Before long, we were hard at work digging for sweet potatoes along the banks of the Perfume River. Later, we savored the fruits of our labor at dinner served under a thatched-roof hut and a cacophony of cicadas.
The next morning a mini cruise on the Perfume River was capped with a cooking class at the Hue EcoLodge.
Clad in EcoLodge aprons, and inspired by the scent of grilling pork kabobs marinated in lemongrass and stir-fried green beans fresh from the lodge’s garden plots, we followed the instructions of our young instructor. As I bit into a warm bite of the sweet potato we had just dug up, it occurred to me that the Hue Ecolodge may be riding the crest of a new food trend: Farm-to-Chopsticks…
Suite au prochain numéro (next time): low-key, historic Hoi An..
I came across this site par hasard earlier a few weeks ago. In case you missed their review of Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories, a couple of years ago, here it is. FYI: Alimentum is one of the best sites for food literature on the web. Thank you Alimentum
Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories
“… But if you don’t cook Moroccan at home, are not near a Moroccan restaurant, and are nowhere near Morocco, you can still smell the aromas, feel the air and atmosphere, hear the languages of both Arabic and French, by opening a book: Kitty Morse’s Mint Tea and Minarets.
Ms. Morse was born in Casablanca and spent her growing-up years there. Her father was English, her mother French. So her perspective straddles both Western and North African customs. Her newest book (she’s written many) is an exotic yet personal memoir festooned with spectacular recipes.
Ms. Morse journeys back to her family’s home just outside Casablanca. She has a mission: to sprinkle her father’s ashes in the river near Dar Zitoun (the name of her family home) and to transfer the title of the property from her father to herself. Both activities come with a full set of red tape that puts Ms. Morse through an obstacle course filled with cultural antiquity and modern day greed. The true colors and characters of Morocco emerge. This is at once familiar, frustrating, and endearing to Ms. Morse. Her endeavors bring her back in contact with a large part of her identity—a part she treasures and needs. The longer she stays, the more she is drawn back into this unique lifestyle. And its food. ..”
New this month: My editor and I are hard at work turning Mint Tea and Minarets into an eBook downloadable on Kindle and all other platforms. I am very excited since I only have 120 hard copies left.. with no thought of reprint. .
Stay tuned! Use your KINDLE!
Kitty in the media:
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
This one is inspired by a recipe in “Cooking At the Kasbah: Recipes From My Moroccan Kitchen” by Kitty Morse (Chronicle Books, 1998, $22.95). NOW IN ITSTENTH PRINTING!
Kitty’s next presentation:
I love our local libraries. They serve as community centers for all age groups rather than as just a depository for books. And librarians are models of patience. Last week, I was invited by the Poway Public library. Thank you for the lovely welcome!
On July 25th, at 1PM, catch me at the San Marcos Public library for a talk (and food samplings) on Mint Tea and Minarets. It’s fun, educational, and air conditioned! And need I add, FREE of charge!
2 Civic Center Drive
San Marcos, CA 92069
New art exhibit in Escondido:
The California Center for the Arts in Escondido (I am a docent there, book a private tour!)is holding its upcoming exhibition beginning July 14 to August 26th.
The American Watercolor Society 151st Traveling exhibition and local color.http://artcenter.org/museum/
Amis français, le saviez-vous:
French school named for North County D-Day veteran
“…. une école a mon nom. . . ..from our own North San Diego County….who knew??
Book clubs: Have you checked out Novel Network? In the last Chronicles, I announced that I participated, along with 22 other writers, in Book Club Bingo, an event organized by the newly formed Novel Network and Adventures by the Book. You missed a good one! Close to 100 participants gathered on the top floor of San Diego’s architectural wonder, our Central Library, for a day of seminars, meet and greets with authors, a luscious box lunch, and networking galore. This is the brilliant concept: Book clubs register for free on the Novel Network website, look for an author (now at 45 and increasing) and book their favorite. Voila… I can also conduct SKYPE interviews no matter where your club meets! Ever thought of writing a family cookbook? I can help you with that too!
Got Art? Need frames?
Just to let you know we have a wonderful frame shop right here, in Vista. The gifted Gina of Art and Frame Studio, 610 E. Vista Way (760)806-7777 (same parking lot as Chin’s restaurant) carries a wide assortment of frames. She just reframed a half-dozen pictures for me, and I am thrilled.
Links of interest about Morocco and elsewhere:
An addictive site: Live music streaming from stations around the world
http://radio.garden/live/vancouver and elsewhere
For a laugh and an education! Accents around the world
Cookbook collectors may find this of interest: Organize your collection. . . I have always wondered how to do that…
CELL PHONES IN CLASSROOMS? What do you think?? Teachers, especially?
The Beat Generation in Tangier:
Vous les connaissez ces messieurs-dames?
Sooooo condescending from my point of view. Didn’t they have anything better to do, surrounded by maids, cooks, drivers, and who knows what other kind of help, but smoke, drink, get high, and criticize the “natives”? Is that what makes a literary icon?
Les courses automobiles à Casa dans les années 50,
When I was growing up in Casablanca, my father helped organize car races. Remember Sterling Moss? I recall the cars roaring along the Corniche and meeting the famed racer: who does these days?
Zagora, in the Moroccan Sahara. We hunted far and low for medfouna (meaning: hidden) which I managed to track down (this was in 1970), and adapt for my first cookbook, Come with me to the Kasbah: A Cook’s tour of Morocco. Sort of a cross between stuffed pizza and calzone. . .
IS the US a visa free country?
Incroyable mais vrai? Et honteux….And I thought being bilingual was an advantage:
France: Dommage, les bons petits bistros disparaissent. . .
Les petits bistros de quartier disparaissent : https://france-amerique.com/fr/parisian-bistros-appeal-for-unesco-world-heritage-status/?
Meanwhile in Tunisia, where I spent many weeks researching recipes for my book,The Vegetarian Table: North Africa (Chronicle Books)
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/may/02/return-to-tunis-why-now-is-the-time-to-visit-this-historic-city? (Actually, Tunis looks much like Casablanca, a treasure trove of Moorish Art deco architecture. Sidi Bou Said, on the sea, is charming! It is VERY VERY hot in Tunis in the summer)
And in 2016, Tunisia ranked 62nd on the Global Entrepreneurship Index. Today it ranks 40th worldwide and is No. 1 in Africa for entrepreneurs.
Bravo to Khaled Bouchoucha who started his career working on planes – now he’s running a startup that optimizes the health of hives. https://www.ozy.com/rising-stars/the-data-engineer-on-a-mission-to-save-tunisias-bees/87037
Confused about tipping? I am. Here is a possible guide.
Has anyone cooked with this? I haven’t tried it yet. I have to laugh though: you have to purchase most ingredients to take advantage of the barley inside the packet?
To keep you cool, a Vietnamese drink!
and Bon appétit.
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.