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Happy New Year!

Merry Xmas

and

a Happy New Year

A traditional French salad for New Year’s Eve

A menu for a “réveillon” celebration (whether Christmas or New Year’s Eve) almost always includes Belgian endives on French tables. This is how we used to greet the nouvel an, new year, in Casablanca:

 

 excerpted from

Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

    . . . “As a family, we spent many a New Year’s Day at (Madame Simone’s) seamlessly orchestrated dinner parties. She was far and away the most impeccable hostess within my parents’ circle of friends. Madame Simone left no detail to chance when she entertained. That made more humiliating an incident when my slightly tipsy father shattered a few crystals in a chandelier with an errant cork he launched from a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

    The food was always trois étoiles, three star, at Madame Simone’s, even to my then unsophisticated palate. But what I marveled at most was the artistry with which she blindly applied her carmine lipstick. I had plenty of opportunity to study her meticulous technique as she recoated her lips with rouge à lèvres almost as often as we changed plates during the multi-course banquet. While the adults sipped champagne and debated political issues around the starched-linen tablecloth laid with monogrammed cutlery, antique candelabras, and sparkling crystal de Bohème, my brother and I diverted ourselves with the fun-house reflections our faces made in our hostess’s polished silver goblets.

     Cheeks flushed from a fingerbreadth ration of chilled Vouvray wine, we savored plump oysters abducted from their beds in the Oualidia lagoon four hours south of town. Like seasoned gastronomes, we devoured dinde aux marrons, roast turkey with chestnuts, and made piglets of ourselves with the perfectly ripened fromages, cheeses, and salade d’endives aux noix, Belgian endives with walnuts . . .”

Salade d’Endives aux Noix

(Belgian Endive Salad with Walnuts)

Serves 4

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons walnut oil

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons minced tarragon leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried, crushed

4 Belgian endives

¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted

¼ cup crumbled Blue cheese or Roquefort

½ cup bacon bits

            Whisk mustard with vinegar until smooth. Continue to whisk while adding oil in a stream, until sauce emulsifies. Stir in salt, pepper, and tarragon. Set aside. 

            Wipe endives with a damp paper towel. Trim and discard ¼ inch from stumps. Cut 1½ inches from tips and set aside.

             Cut what remains of endives into ½-inch-wide slices. Arrange in the center of a serving platter and surround with separated leaves from the tips. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted walnuts, Roquefort, and bacon bits.

from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories. Copyright Kitty Morse 2012. All rights reserved.

Bon Appetit!

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)

 

 

 

Belated October post/pomegranates

  Finally! Two advance copies of Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories arrived at our front door. A couple of thousand more should arrive from Hong Kong by November 20, 2012.
    With  327 pages, 32 original recipes, and 99 food and location photographs, the hefty, perfect bound paperback weighs in at 2 lbs 3oz.  culminating a ten year challenge of writing something else besides a cookbook. Along the way, I discovered that memoir writing is not for the faint of heart, that perseverance bordering on obssession is of paramount importance, as are an eagle-eyed husband (also photographer, recipe tester, and cheerleader-in-chief) insightful and patient friends, and discerning editors. For a preview of the contents, click on the cover of the book.
    Free shipping on all orders in the US until December 31, 2012. I would be delighted to send you a signed copy.
    No Kindle or Nook edition yet. The technology doesn't do justice to the photographs.

     Aren't pomegranates the most regal of fruits? During this pomegranate season, I' like to share my husband's latest addiction: Couscous with Pomegranate Seeds,  which he eats for dessert or for breakfast.Spiny pomegranate shrubs grew prolifically in the Holy Land. Its fruit was a symbol of fertility. Tyrian master craftsman, Huram, decorated columns in King Solomon’s palace with hundreds of bronze pomegranates. Stylized blue, gold and purple pomegranates adorned the ephods (vests) worn by temple priests. To order, go to http://www. amazon.com. The book is also available in Kindle version. For a signed copy, contact me directly. This simple recipe is excerpted from A Biblical Feast.

 Serves 1
 
1/4 cup couscous
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Buttermilk or almond milk
Sugar, if desired
 
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add couscous in a stream. Cover and let stand 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool and fluff with a fork.
 
Mix couscous with pomegranate seeds and sugar, if using. Serve with buttermilk.
 
 
 

The Kasbah Chronicles Jan/Feb 2012

 

 

February 2 marks La Chandeleur (Candlemas), when crêpes are de rigueur on French tables–a tradition my mother upheld all the while I was growing up in Casablanca. Simply sprinkled a crêpe with a little powdered sugar, and celebrate! Another cause for celebration is

La Saint Valentin

and this sumptuous dessert 

 A tulip (pesticide free, of course) as a receptacle for chocolate mousse! The recipe for the mousse au chocolat comes from my grandmother and is exerpted from my lovely little gift book, Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion (Ten Speed Press, 1995). 

Chocolate Moussed Tulips

serves 6 to 8

Tulip (Tulipa species and cultivars):  Tulips originated in Turkey, and over the centuries acquired enormous commercial value, not only in Asia Minor were the bulbs were once used as currency, but in countries like the Netherlands were tulips eventually became part of the national landscape.  From an edible standpoint, the petals of the tulip have a light crunch, and make beautiful edible receptacles for fruit sorbets, sweet or savory mousses, or finely minced, crisp vegetables.  Their delicate sweetness is especially prevalent in the white, peach or pink-colored blooms, ideally suited to this filling of chocolate mousse.    

 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

1/3 cup sweet butter

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons sugar

12 to 14 tulips, rinsed and dried

2 pints raspberries, rinsed and drained

     In the top of a double boiler, or inside a bowl set in a pan filled with simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth.  Stir in the butter.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Stir in egg yolks, one at a time, then the Grand Marnier.  Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until fairly stiff. Halfway through, add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the beaten egg whites. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes. Mound a teaspoon or two of mousse in the bottom of each of 8 dessert cups and keep refrigerated.

      Prepare tulips for filling.  Carefully push petals apart, and with a small pair of scissors, cut out pistil and stamen.  Cut off the stem. Fill each blossom 3/4 full with mousse, gently holding the petals. Press a filled tulip into each cup so that it stays upright in the chilled mousse.  Surround with a few raspberries. Chill until ready to serve.

copyright 1995

A HOT couscous soup for a cold night!

Joyeuses Fêtes and Happy Holidays!

(to paraphrase a Moroccan proverb)

 

To each of you, I send a box filled with sesame seeds.

 

Each seed representing one hundred wishes for peace, health, and happiness in 2012

 

Bonne Année, Bon Appétit and Bismillah!

 

A l'année prochaine!

 

 To counter grey days and world-shattering news events, I usually retreat to the

kitchen to ferret out the contents of my vegetable bin. Do I have what it takes

to make soup? Last week, while the rain pelted our skylights, I uncovered the

ingredients necessary for couscous soup. A true balm for the spirit! 

From my book, Couscous: Fresh and Flavorful Contemporary Recipes, a heart warming soup spiked with not-too-fiery harissa.

 

Spicy Tunisian Couscous Soup 

Serves 6

This soup is packed with flavor even if you omit the chicken. In fact, I often make a vegetarian version, adding other root vegetables such as turnips and rutabagas to the pot.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon Harissa hot sauce, plus extra for serving

6 chicken legs or thighs

3 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 medium potato, peeled and cubed

6 ounces pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

8 cups chicken broth

1 medium zucchini, diced

One 14 1/4-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained

1/3 cup couscous

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, coriander, cumin, garlic, and harissa. Stir to blend. Add the chicken. Stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, carrot, potato, pumpkin, and broth. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, 35 to 40 minutes. 

 With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones. Return the boned chicken to the pot.

Add the zucchini, garbanzo beans, and couscous. Continue cooking until the couscous is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with extra harissa on the side.

STAY WARM!