Tag Archives: Moroccan cuisine

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
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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…

ANCHORAGE Here I Come! Sept. 23-30, 2016

I am getting excited! My book tour to Alaska is merely 2 weeks away. If you happen to read this post, and if you know people in Anchorage, please feel free to share the following information. Three other San Diego authors are joining me for this first author exchange with Alaska colleagues: Kathi Diamant http://kathidiamant.com, Marivi Solinen (https://marivisoliven.com), and Susan McBeth (http://adventuresbythebook.com) for this one-of-a-kind experience. I will cook, chat, and give presentations on Moroccan cuisine and on edible flowers.

Here are the events I am participating in:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/319286585087859/

Saturday, September 24: 2:10 to 3:10PM. Roundtable chat

49writers annual conference, Anchorage, Alaska

Kitty Morse on How to write and market a cookbook.

2:10 pm to 3 10 pm:

BP Energy Center

900 E. Benson Blvd.

PO Box 196612 Anchorage, Alaska 99519-6612

www.49writingcenter.org

 

Saturday, September 24: 6PM. Reservations required.

CHAT WITH THE AUTHOR while you SAVOR AN AUTHENTIC MOROCCAN DINNER!

TURKEY RED RESTAURANT

550 S Alaska, Suite 100

Palmer AK

Chef Alex: Email: turkeyredak@gmail.com

Call: 1.907.355.3242

http://www.turkeyredak.com

Books for sale provided by David Cheezum, Fireside bookstore, Palmer, AK. fireside@goodbooksbadcoffee.com

http://www.goodbooksbadcoffee.com

 

Monday, September 26. 6-8PM. Reservations required.

Cooking Class: A Taste of Morocco

Allen and Peterson Home store

3002 Seward Highway

Anchorage AK

http://aphome.com

907-276-0111

 

Tuesday, September 27. 6PM. Open to the public.

Presentation on Moroccan cuisine and culture

Nancy Clark, mgr

Anchorage Public Library

Chugiak-Eagle River Branch
907-343-1533

e-mail: ClarkNE@ci.anchorage.ak.us>

 

Wednesday, September 28: 6:30PM to 8PM. Fee charged.

Sprinkle Flowers on your plate!

Alaska Botanical Gardens Lecture Series

September 28 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

BP Energy Center,

900 E. Benson Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99508 United States

ABG Lecture: Sprinkle Flowers on Your Plate

 

Thursday September 29, 7PM

Presentation on Moroccan cuisine and culture

Anchorage Public Library, Loussac Branch
907-343-1533

http://anchoragelibrary.evanced.info

HOPE TO SEE YOU AT AN EVENT!!!

 

 

 

Recipes from San Diego Living, SD Channel 6, Nov. 9th, 2015 TV appearance

November 9, 2015

 

From Mint Tea and Minarets: a Banquet of Moroccan Memories

(La Caravane, 2013)

Egg Tagine with Olives

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, very finely diced

1 (14¼-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

½ teaspoon sugar

10 green or purple olives, rinsed, pitted, and coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

8 eggs

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon mashed preserved lemon pulp (optional)

Freshly ground pepper

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

BAGUETTE slices, for serving

 

In a tagine or medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar, olives, garlic, and bay leaf. Mash lightly with a fork. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes thicken somewhat, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Set aside half of this mixture for garnish.

In a bowl, beat eggs, cilantro, cumin, preserved lemon pulp, and pepper. Add to tomato mixture. Cook, stirring gently, until eggs are not quite set. Garnish with the reserved tomato mixture and cilantro. Serve immediately with crusty bread.


 From Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen (Chronicle Books, 1999)

now in its  tenth printing

Cassolita

Moroccan Squash with Caramelized Onions

(serves 4)

 

1 lb Mediterranean pumpkin or butternut squash

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1/4 C olive oil

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 T sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 C raisins, plumped in warm water and drained

1/4 C slivered almonds, toasted

 

Place unpeeled squash in baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F until soft, about 1 hour. Let cool. Peel and cut into serving pieces and place in baking dish.

 

Cook the onions in the oil, with the cinnamon, sugar, salt, and pepper, until very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the raisins and cook 5 minutes longer. Spread the mixture over the squash, cover with foil, and return to the oven to heat for 20 minutes.

THANKSGIVING or Le Jour de Merci Donnant 2014

I flew across the pond to Morocco in early November to take care of Dar Zitoun, our family riad, 90 kilometres south of Casablanca.  My memoir, Mint Tea and Minarets relates the story of this local landmark which I hadn’t visited in FOUR years. Although Dar Zitoun has been in the family for over half a century, it is time to put it on the market and hand over the keys to the next buyer. It is now “staged” for a sale.

In Morocco, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with old friends who always make my trip worthwhile. I am no longer conducting tours, but I can assure you that Morocco remains a welcoming destination.

First impressions: Air France rocks! And the connections between Paris and Morocco are excellent. I have no idea how the 800 passenger Airbus gets off the ground, but a complimentary glass of champagne and a smiling Air France flight attendant (yes, even in “cattle car”) did much to lessen my fears. While Charles de Gaulle airport is geared to luxury and comfort with soft music, a MUSEUM, and comfortable seating throughout, the Delta terminal at Kennedy is the “wretched” refuge of “huddles masses,” sitting and lying around on the floor. Is this the impression we want to give our visitors?  Hats off to the TSA, however. Passport control now consists of scanning your passport into a machine.

Morocco sits squarely in the twenty first century. TEXTING is the norm. Freeways, skyscrapers, traffic jams to rival downtown L.A’s, Casablanca’s state of the art train station and sleek electric trams have transformed the landscape (downtown is now a giant pedestrian mall, how cool is that?) I browsed around the Galeries Lafayette, the iconic French store, at the Morocco Mall. STARBUCKS, KFC, MacDos and Pizza Huts are leading the fast food  invasion. A royal wedding in Rabat topped it all off (I wasn’t among the guests, but I did meet up with Mrs. Chirac, wife of the former French president, in the Rabat medina!) Rabat’s recently opened Musée d’Art Contemporain is definitely worth the detour, as is dining in a riverfront restaurant in the new marina along the Bou Regreg.

These pictures will explain: The NEW Casablanca Train station/Casa Port.

October 2014 update

I will be on my way to the real kasbah when you read this. As many of you know, I haven’t been there in four years, an eternity for me. Dar Zitoun awaits on the banks of the Mother of Spring.

I was thrilled last month to be interviewed for NPR’s The Salt Blog, where my recipe for smen, Morocco’s unique preserved butter, is now online. The recipe is from Mint Tea and Minarets.

Smen: NPR The Salt

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/10/09/353510171/smen-is-moroccos-funky-fermented-butter-that-lasts-for-years

A new Middle Eastern market opened in our neighborhood, and look at what I found:

Russian couscous, can you believe it? When I first arrived in the US in the mid 1960s, my grandfather had to special order it in New York from Mid East importers. Great exultation followed upon the arrival of our couscous fix in Milwaukee, WI!