Kitty Morse

Cookbook Author, Food and Travel Writer

Kitty Morse

Cookbook Author, Food and Travel Writer

Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

 This month, the culinary world is celebrating what would have been Julia’s 100th birthday. The occasion calls for sharing my own “Julia” memories.

 As a novice food writer, I pitched a story on Julia to a local magazine a few months ahead of the culinary icon’s visit to San Diego. The go-ahead for a proposed phone interview with Julia sent my heart racing. I held my breath and called her home in Cambridge (MA), and left a message on her answering machine. Our phone rang the next morning while I was under the shower. My husband had no idea of my assignment when he picked up the receiver. He barged into the bathroom with a wild eyed look on his face. “Are YOU expecting a call from Julia Child?” he asked. YES!

A few years later, I was invited to cook alongside Julia for a benefit. The event took place in a private home in Santa Barbara (see picture below.) My menu included bestila. Julia, ever her considerate self, watched attentively as I assembled Morocco’s my phyllo “pie” filled with sweet shredded chicken, and redolent of saffron, cinnamon, and of course, bountiful handfuls of chopped cilantro (fresh coriander.) Julia stood beside me answering questions from participants about her life and career. Only weeks later did I learn she HATED cilantro! She never let on! Here again, she won over my husband. “Julia made it a point to come into the kitchen to thank me for doing the dishes,” he told me, starry eyed.

This is the other dish I cooked alongside Julia:

Tagine of Cornish Hens with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Serves 4


Salt and pepper

2 medium Cornish hens, rinsed and patted dry

Pulp of 1 preserved lemon

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 onion, finely diced

1 cup chicken broth

8 threads Spanish saffron, toasted and crushed with a little salt

10 fresh cilantro sprigs, tied with cotton string

20 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, tied with cotton string

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons preserved lemon pulp

1 cup green, pitted (optional) green or purple olives in brine, drained, and rinsed under running water

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Crusty bread, for serving


         Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Salt and pepper the cavity of the hens. Rub the outside with the lemon pulp. Set aside.

         In a medium enameled casserole, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, paprika, ginger, pepper, and cook, stirring until the mixture foams, 1 to 2 minutes. (Do not overcook, or the spices will turn bitter.) Add the hens, and stir to coat. Add the onion, broth, saffron, cilantro, and parsley. Cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Bake until the juices run clear and the hens are tender, 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F. With a slotted spoon, transfer the hens to an oven proof dish to keep warm. Leave the sauce in the pan. Discard the parsley and cilantro. 

         Bring the sauce to a simmer on top of the stove. Reduce it by 1/4. Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and olives. Stir gently until heated through. Set the hens in the center of a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the dish. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve with crusty bread.


copyright Kitty Morse 2012.

 Julia, we miss you! Your spirit (and your recipes) lives on! View more photos of Julia on


Watch me on YOU TUBE: Share with friends! Leave a comment!

Watch me make Moroccan preserved lemons

 Cooking at the KasbahPreserved Lemons YouTube


A la prochaine!