Category Archives: Salads


Bitter Orange Salad/Salad d’Oranges Amères

In answer to the e-Newsletter I sent out at the beginning of February, I received this lovely letter from  Danielle Avidan, a follower of this website. She was kind enough to contribute this recipe.

She writes: “My grandmother used a heavy earthenware container, but it can be prepared in an ordinary salad bowl, even a terrine (ça se garde très bien au refrigerateur!)"

 Bitter oranges appetizer

 3 large bitter oranges (Seville oranges) or 4 medium ones

About 10 to 2 black olives, preferably the ‘wrinkled’ ones from Morocco that can be found in Persian markets;

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/2 tsp paprika, or more if you like;

1/4 tsp cumin;

1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional);

3 (or 4) T Canola or grapeseed oil (do not to substitute olive oil!)

Salt and white pepper to taste.

Pit olives. Peel oranges, and cut in small cubes. Remove seeds. Thoroughly mix all ingredients in an earthenware bowl or ordinary salad bowl. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Adjust seasonings before serving at room temperature.

Note: The longer you keep it the better it tastes! This can accompany any meat, chicken or fish dish, as a first course, or can be served with other ‘salads’ such as beet, eggplant, carrot etc..

Merci Danielle!

 Tita, my own great-aunt and culinary mentor, often prepared a similar salad with the bitter, Seville oranges that we picked in Marrakech. My own version contains Valencia or Navels, dried Kalamata olives, and chopped red onion or diced fennel, depending upon the availability or the inspiration!


Bay Area Impressions


I wanted to share the interesting experience I had on my way to the airport for my Bay Area appearances at Le Creuset stores, last Saturday at 5:45 AM—my shuttle was a no-show. Panicked, I called the company several times: they did finally send a driver 45 minutes later, and I made my flight. However, and FYI everyone, I learned from my driver that reservations agents often confuse AM with PM. So be sure to RECONFIRM your shuttle a few days beforehand. I learned my lesson!

During my “cooking and signing tour” for Le Creuset in their Walnut Creek, Vacaville, and Gilroy, I had the pleasure of making new friends, and of visiting with Moroccan cuisine aficionados, some of whom had driven two hours to attend the demonstration. Here is the Moroccan style ratatouille laced with preserved lemon and flavored with cumin, I prepared. This will taste even better if you make it a day ahead.

Zahlouk: Serves 6

1 globe eggplant, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes

Salt for sprinkling

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow zucchini, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes

3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cubed (or 1 cup canned, organic diced tomatoes)

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 ¼ teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons diced preserved lemon rind (check out my preserved lemon page)

Sprinkle eggplant lightly with salt and allow to sweat for 20 to 30 minutes on paper towels. Rinse under running water. Pat dry. In a heavy, non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and zucchini. Cook, stirring, until vegetables turn soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer vegetables to a colander set over a bowl to drain. Set aside.  To the same pan, add bell pepper. Cook, stirring, 5 to 6 minutes, until soft. Add to the eggplant. Set aside. To the same pan, add a little of the drained oil from the vegetables, if necessary. Add garlic and tomatoes. Stir in black pepper, cumin, and preserved lemon. Cook, stirring until tomatoes thicken somewhat, 5 to 6 minutes. Return drained vegetables to the pan. Heat through, and adjust seasonings. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature for best flavor. 


Those who live near Walnut Creek, CA, MUST go and take a look at the new, flagship Le Creuset store downtown. It is absolutely stunning. I felt as though I had just stepped into a smaller version of the Museum of Modern Art. Backlit glass shelves hold the latest Le Creuset cookware, including a tagine pot in striking Caribbean blue (aqua) that is almost too beautiful to cook in. There is also a small demonstration area where visiting chefs/authors can show off their skills. Be sure and get on the store’s mailing list so you know who is coming there next!

 In San Francisco, where I spent the night with friends, I was fortunate to be taken to The Slanted Door (, a highly regarded and very trendy Vietnamese restaurant at the Ferry Building, overlooking San Francisco Bay. There, I sampled what is possibly the BEST Vietnamese food I have ever eaten, including MEMORABLE prawns with caramelized onions, and a feather light Vietnamese omelet stuffed with crab.

I grew up on Vietnamese food in Casablanca (a number of French-speaking Vietnamese emigrated to Morocco after the War of Indochina.) We locals mistakenly lumped all Asian-style restaurants under the “resto chinois” label. It wasn’t until I came to the US and tasted Cantonese food, that I realized that the “Chinese dishes” I ate in Morocco were actually Vietnamese (I will travel miles for a good “nem”, fried V-N eggroll (also called cha-gio) wrapped in fresh lettuce, mint, and cilantro leaves!) Strangely enough, this North African-Asian cross-cultural exchange now extends to the Moroccan kitchen itself. Cuisinieres all over the country have taken to using maifun (chinese bean threads or rice noodles) instead of rice or couscous (the national staple) seasoned a la marocaine, as a stuffing, or as a filling for a seafood bestila (savory phyllo pastry). So don’t be surprised to see packages of maifun stacked up on tarps lining the ground at a country souk! 

Bismillah, and Bon Appetit,



Wild Rice Irene

For The California Farm Cookbook (Pelican Publishing 1994) (link to, I travelled the length and breadth of California, searching out family farmers, and recording their stories. I also solicited their favorite recipes for the fruits and vegetables they grew, the cheese they produced, and the beef or chickens they raised. This is one of them.

This is  a great dish to take on a picnic. The secret to obtaining tender wild rice is to soak it overnight (the way they do in Minnesota!), and then cook it until the grains pop open.

4 cups chicken broth
1 cup wild rice, soaked overnight and drained
1 3/4 cups bulgur wheat
1 cup raisins
1 bunch scallions, white part only, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Grated zest of two oranges
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 cup pecan bits or sliced almonds, toasted

In medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Stir in wild rice. Return to a boil. Cover and lower heat to simmer. Cook, 40 to 45 minutes or until rice grain "pops" open. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
While rice is cooking, bring 2 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add bulgur wheat. Cover and lower heat to simmer. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain.  Let bulgur cool, and combine with the rice.  Add all remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

From The California Farm Cookbook (Pelican Publishing, 1994)


Carrots with paprika and Capers

Serves 6

This is only one of the wide assortment of salads–think of them as Moroccan-style tapas-that open up a  meal. Like most Moroccan salads, this is best prepared a day ahead, and served at room temperature.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 cup finely diced green onion
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into slices 1/8-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons drained capers
1/2 teaspoon salt
Minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

In a medium skillet, stir oil and paprika over medium-high heat until paprika begins to foam. Add onion. Cook, stirring, until soft. Add carrots, garlic, and water. Cover and cook over medium-low until carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add vinegar, capers, and salt. Cook, uncovered, until carrots are lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

From The Vegetarian Table: North Africa. Updated and copyrighted Kitty Morse 2008