Tag Archives: Moroccan

CHARMOULA marinade served at White House Dinner!

You’ll find a recipe for this classic Moroccan marinade in each of my books!

Obama Welcomes African Leaders for Unusual Dinner

WASHINGTON — Aug 5, 2014, 10:49 PM ET

White House dinner

“The menu featured a largely American-style dinner with hints of Africa sprinkled throughout each of the four courses.

Guests dined on chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps, which are made of chick peas; chopped farm-stand vegetable salad using produce from the first lady’s garden; and grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef served with chermoula, a marinade used in North African cooking, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Dessert was cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar. American wines were also on the menu.”

Alimentum, The Literature of Food, reviews Mint Tea and Minarets

I am a fan of Alimentum, an online magazine dedicated to the Literature of Food. The editors try their best to showcase some of the best food writing around. I was doubly thrilled with their review of Mint Tea and Minarets.

So here it is, and do visit their website. You’ll leave hungry for more!


Bon appétit!





After the fires/May 2014

The lingering smell of smoke from the terrible fires in San Marcos (about 7miles east of us) has evaporated.  The breeze swept away the film of burnt ash that covered our patio. What a sinking, heartsick feeling to stand on our rooftop terrace and view the macabre fireworks lighting up the string of nearby hills around Cal State San Marcos, about 7 miles away. The university was evacuated, and their commencement ceremonies put off for a week. Couple that with incessant TV coverage of the worst hit areas around us, and you get the idea: San Diego County suffered.


 The dramatic episode brought to mind our long ago honeymoon: I insisted on taking Owen to the Moroccan oasis of Ouarzazate (now Morocco’s “Hollywood”). It must have been at least 115 degrees in the (non-existent) shade. Not only did we battle burning “chergui” or “sirocco” winds similar to California’s Santa Anas, but in Morocco, they carried clouds of ravenous locusts. Ha! Memories!

Events like the fires help put things in perspective. I am always amazed at the equanimity of newly homeless homeowners. “We’re alive, our family is safe, and so are our animals. That’s what’s important. We will rebuild.”


Would I react the same way? I don’t know. One thing is for sure, I am REALLY going prepare my emergency suitcase, just in case. If you were told to evacuate NOW, are you prepared?  What would you put in the “grab and go” boxes before a hurried escape?


 A touch of spring lingers. A mockingbird wakes us up each morning with a concert of chirps, obsessed with its need to attract a mate. The bird, like homeowners with burnt out houses, take the long view. I will try that approach!




Happy 100th Julia Child!

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. www.kittymorse.com

 Julia, we miss you! Your spirit (and your recipes) lives on! View more photos of Julia on http://pinterest.com/pin/168462842282204227/

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!


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.