Excerpted from Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen
Makes about 4 dozen
Did you know that the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks, all cultivated sesame seeds and sometimes used them as packing material? Ghoriba are the most popular cookies in Morocco.
3/4 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds, toasted
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup fine semolina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 stick butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
In a wide, shallow bowl, mix sesame seeds, flour, semolina, baking powder, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, and butter. Slowly add the oil, stirring vigorously. Turn it onto a lightly floured board and knead until dough is thick and elastic. This could take up to 10 minutes. Let dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take one tablespoon of dough, and with your hands, roll it into a 1-inch ball. Set on a greased or non-stick baking sheet and flatten it with your fingers to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Continue in this manner until all dough is used.
Bake until cookies turn light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula. Sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar. Store in a metal tin.
I perch on the edge of another momentous birthday, I need to salute two centenarians in my life: Flor, my mother’s first cousin, who reached this milestone last August—and whose voice sounds as lively today as that of an 18-year-old’s; and Irene, who has reached 103 and was one of the very first passengers to join me on my gastronomic tour along the Kasbah Trail three decades ago. What role models!
Covid and confined — with a BIG difference: My husband and I got our first dose of the vaccine. Funny how a weight has been lifted from our shoulders—even though we need a second dose.
The confinement has not put halt to my work. I am knee-deep in family history spanning WWI and WWII—recipes from Alsace-Lorraine included, bien sûr.
My thoughts return to last year at this time: I was in heaven petting the whales in Baja California and making snowballs in Baja’s sierra. That trip has kept my wanderlust at bay for the past 12 months, but enough already!
Je voudrais saluer deux amies centenaires : cousine Flor, qui a passé le cap en août dernier, et Irene, qui va avoir 103 ans! Toutes deux dignes de ma profonde admiration.
GROSSE différence entre ce mois de confinement et mes dernières Chroniques : mon mari et moi avons finalement obtenu la première dose du vaccin. Si vous regardez les nouvelles, vous savez que les USA ont été lents à démarrer. J’espère que les choses se sont mieux passées chez vous. On respire mieux, mais à 6 pieds de distance! Heureusement que l’an dernier à cette date, j’ai pu aller au Mexique, en Californie du Sud caresser les baleines !
Spices in Moroccan cooking
Friday, Feb. 26, 2021
Coronado Public Library (and it is a beautiful one!)
The use of cumin in tagines and other Moroccan dishes. This is a great program sponsored by the library called Spice it Up, Coronado! FREE! But you need to register.
Il ne faut pas oublier qu’avant de devenir le paradis des techies, Silicon Valley était couverte d’arbres fruitiers notamment des meilleurs abricotiers du pays.
I was thrilled to read the article on apricots, and had to share my apricot adventures in Silicon Valley. I visited several farmers in late 1999—among them the famous Mariani orchards in Morgan Hill, CA. Andy Mariani, who is still in business, is one of this country most knowledgeable stone fruit experts (https://andysorchard.com.) (They ship!) He shared a recipe for The California Farm Cookbook (Kitty Morse, Pelican Publishing).
CALIFORNIA APRICOTS: A History (and a recipe)
Mariani Orchards’ Apricot-Amaretto Sandwiches
“On our family farm,” says Andy Mariani of Mariani Orchards, “autumn is a favorite time of the year.” The tall, dark-haired, and soft-spoken Andy is proud to carry on the family tradition–one begun by his forefathers who originated in Vis, an island off the Dalmatian Coast. The senior Mariani began farming in California in 1932, finally settling in the idyllic Morgan Hill area of the Santa Clara Valley–the perfect location to grow plump apricots and sweet cherries. Andy’s brothers and sisters help in the running of the orchard as well as in the ever-expanding mail-order business. “Fruit grown elsewhere in California doesn’t seem to have the sweetness ours do,” says Andy, who credits the high quality of the Mariani fruit to the proximity of the ocean, and to a cool growing season. The delicious result of the Mariani’s labors is evident when biting into the oversized, dried Blenheim apricots which they use to make their superb Apricot Amaretto-Sandwiches.
Marzipan OR almond paste (available in supermarkets or specialty food stores)
Almond extract or Amaretto liqueur
Jumbo, dried Mariani apricots to suit
Guittard A’peels dipping chocolate (#9760)
If using marzipan, which is sweeter than almond paste, use a few drops of almond extract or Amaretto to cut sweetness. Roll marzipan or almond paste into a log shape, until it reaches the same diameter as the apricot half. Cut round patties about 1/4″ in width. To assemble sandwich, trim apricot half to perfect circle on sheet of wax paper. Place almond paste patty on top, and cover with second apricot half. Squeeze slightly so filling adheres to apricot. Trim to size. If smaller sandwich is preferred, simply cut in half. For extra special treat, dip sandwich in melted chocolate. Let cool on wax paper. Store in airtight container until ready to eat.
Note: Almond paste is available in bulk from large bakeries. Commercial marzipan found in supermarkets tends to be very sweet. Guittard A’peels dipping chocolate #9760 is specially formulated to stick to dried fruit. You can order the 2″ wide jumbo apricots directly from the Marianis.
Flashback to Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories, and our historic medina of Azemmour.
Azemmour vu du ciel 2020 Nous vous proposons des vues d’Azemmour comme vous ne les avez jamais vu.
https://laquotidienne.ma/article/actualites-economiques/covid-19-le-premier-scanner-de-depistage-au-maroc-et-en-afrique-installe-a-casablanca United Imaging Healthcare (UIH), grand acteur international dans le domaine des équipements médicaux, a introduit le tout premier système de dépistage Covid-19 en Afrique.
Did you know ?
French in Africa: French is the official language of 21 countries in Africa. (They don’t mention North Africa, but they should!
Nouveau mot de vocabulaire:
New FRENCH WORD: OVER THE TOP !!! I leave it up to you to translate.
“Un afterwork au bureau, des amis à la maison, une envie d’Alsace, un match de football, basket ou rugby…
Received from Morocco: I love the spellings…« le nouveau président (djo baidn donc bay bay korona »
These seals at Oceanside Harbor have the right idea: Wake me up when COVID is over…
The Kasbah Chronicles
Les Chroniques de la Kasbah
In English and en français
Notes on my next cookbook
A new twist on a Moroccan classic
Links of interest
News of Morocco and beyond
Improve your spoken French!
Moroccan items for sale
In this, the ninth month of the COVID pandemic, I am at a loss for words. I cannot complain, since our Vista Kasbah is the best place for me to be sequestered—but boy, am I getting itchy feet. Yet, the idea of getting on an airplane still does not appeal to me.
Actually, the pandemic has served an exciting purpose: I have been hard at work on my next book, Bitter Sweet: legacy from my Alsatian ancestors (working title). Beautiful food photography included too!
I received an email blast from the High Atlas Foundation, a most worthy NGO in Morocco :
Toumliline remains a magical name in my mind. Toum as we all called it, was a refuge for Catholic nuns in the Middle Atlas Mountains. It was a popular destination and Catholic retreat for many of my Catholic friends, especially at Easter:
“On part a Toum….” they would announce… each year.
Those among you who accompanied me to Morocco will remember the longest day of the trip as we crossed the Atlas Mountains from Fez to the oasis of Tinehrir. Half way up, Tioum hides among the forest of cedar trees not far from the snow slopes of the Mishliffen. Macaques on the way to Toum…
The very first avocado from our very own tree..
Let’s head to the kitchen
new twist on egg tagine with lox
Morocco meets Brooklyn
(variations in Cooking at the Kasbah, The Vegetarian Table: North Africa and Mint Tea and Minarets.)
do you get the idea I love this egg dish?!!
Egg Tagine with Olives and lox
Make the tomato chermoula sauce ahead of time:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, very finely diced
1 (14¼-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
½ teaspoon sugar (optional)
10 green or purple olives, rinsed, pitted, and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
¼ cup minced cilantro
In a tagine or medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden, 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. Add cilantro.
Adapted from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories.
For ONE person:
One egg, beaten
1 or 2 slices of lox, diced
Pour the egg in a small oiled skillet. Swirl around as for an omelet. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with 2 tablespoons of the chermoula, and diced salmon.
Copyright Kitty Morse 2020
More: The French are crazy about “crumbles” savory or sweet. Who knew that “crumbles” (and biscuits d’Halloween) would make such an impact?
4 slices of ham or prosciutto (optional), cut into ribbons
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring the oil to medium heat in a pan or skillet. Saute the zucchini slices until soft. Drain and set aside.
For the crumble, combine the flour, bread crumbs, parmesan, and salt. Add the softened butter and mix with your fingertips. Alternate layers of zucchini, and ham (if using) in a medium baking dish. Top with the crumble mixture and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Casablanca is undergoing a renewal, and hopefully a getting a good coat of paint. We lived on Avenue Hassan II, across from the park, one the city’s main arteries. This is what our building looked like in the earl 1920s…a beautiful Moorish art deco structure. it needs a new coat of paint in this century. Local casablancais have finally realized what an architectural treasure they have in downtown Casablanca..
What a lovely surprise to wake up to this message on December 1, 2019
“Le riad au bord de l´oued is the Winner for Morocco in the Gourmand World Awards in the category B12 Translation .
You now qualify to compete for Best in the World 2020 with winners from other countries in the same category. This year a total of 225 countries participated in the competition. You can see the complete list of winners 2020 on www.cookbookfair.com
The following link will give you a General Presentation of the Gourmand Awards, including our Gourmand World Summit 2019 at UNESCO, the International Village of Gastronomy in front of the Eiffel Tower, and the awards ceremony in Macao. last July