Tag Archives: tagine

The Kasbah Chronicles November 2015


 Clkshp 4

Chef David Thorne of Elysian restaurant in Glendale, CA


In need of “comfort food” I broke my tradition of basting a turkey inside and out with PRESERVED LEMON PULP to prepare a TURKEY COUSCOUS from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan Memories (page 221, CH 22). Couscous= a balm for the soul.

And then came Paris. We remained glued to the television, as was the rest of the world. To paraphrase my French friends and relatives: “We must go on as usual, or we allow THEM to win. “ The world’s response to the catastrophe reached San Diego, where Susan McBeth of Aventures by the Book (adventuresbythebook.com) put together a Je Suis Paris benefit event in barely 6 days, and raised over $5,000 for the Croix Rouge Française. Merci Susan, and merci, author Jen Coburn (www.jennifercoburn.com), for co-organizing.

In honor of the victims, hold on to your hankies and listen to this: http://www.lefigaro.fr/musique/2015/11/27/03006-20151127ARTFIG00251-hommage-national-natalie-dessay-fait-l-unanimite.php

     I got a break from mulling over current events with an invitation to “chat” at Kan Ya Ma Kan, a dinner organized by Clockshop (www.clockshop.org) to celebrate the food, culture, and music of Morocco’s Sephardic Jews. Chef David Thorne, who heads the adjoining Elysian restaurant (www.elysianla.com) shares the airy space with Clockshop in a former warehouse nestled among ancient buildings perched on the banks of the LA River in Glendale, CA. I licked my own chops with Chef David’s rendition of my Tagine of Duck with Prunes and Caramelized Persimmons in honey sauce!

News from Morocco: An ancient DATE crop is making a comeback:

Figuig: A troubled home for, AZIZA, Morocco’s rarest date variety.Very interesting paper written by a young intern at the High Atlas Foundation, an organization of Morocco Peace Corps returnees.


 Incroyable mais vrai! Morocco is thinking about BANNING the use of plastic shopping bags.

Anyone who has traveled in Morocco, or other developing countries (and, for that matter, parts of the California desert) bemoans the unsightly trash that makes these areas “bloom.” My husband and I refer to the fields littered with ubiquitous black plastic bags, “fields of flowers,” when we encounter them along Moroccan roads.

How ironic that this is a prevalent sight in countries that produce such wonderful artisanal straw baskets.

Irony 1: I have used the SAME Moroccan baskets for over 30 years!

Irony 2: WE end up purchasing these same imported straw goods at US farmer’s markets.

SACS PLASTIQUES – Interdiction par le parlement marocain

La Chambre des représentants a adopté à l’unanimité, le projet de loi n° 77-15 portant sur l’interdiction de la fabrication, l’importation, l’exportation, la commercialisation et l’utilisation des sacs en plastique.

MORE good news from Morocco:

It is among the safest countries to visit, says the British Foreign Office. Let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed.

Le Maroc parmi les pays les plus sûrs au monde, selon le Foreign Office. (“Morocco among the safest countries in the world,” according to the Foreign Office.) The British government encourages its citizens to visit.

“Le Maroc figure en bonne place dans le classement 2015 des pays les plus sûrs au monde établi par le Foreign Office, aux côtés de pays européens et d’Amérique du Nord, rapporte “Le360“. La Grande-Bretagne déconseille à ses citoyens le voyage dans pas moins de 60 pays, principalement ceux de la Région du Moyen-Orient et d’Afrique du Nord, dont la Tunisie frappée l’été dernier par une vague d’attentats terroristes . . . Seule exception de la Région MENA, le Maroc est classé par le Foreign-Office parmi les pays les plus sûrs au monde. «Toutes les régions du royaume sont sûres», assure le Foreign Office, conseillant les ressortissants britanniques de s’y rendre sans s’inquiéter le moins du monde. MarocZone

New FRANGLAIS word for you to ponder:

” le startuppeur de l’année” en Afrique et au Maroc . . . Les projets primés recevront le label Startuppeur de l’année 2015 . . .

Question: Are you acquainted with any startappeurs?

THANKSGIVING or Le Jour de Merci Donnant 2014

I flew across the pond to Morocco in early November to take care of Dar Zitoun, our family riad, 90 kilometres south of Casablanca.  My memoir, Mint Tea and Minarets relates the story of this local landmark which I hadn’t visited in FOUR years. Although Dar Zitoun has been in the family for over half a century, it is time to put it on the market and hand over the keys to the next buyer. It is now “staged” for a sale.

In Morocco, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with old friends who always make my trip worthwhile. I am no longer conducting tours, but I can assure you that Morocco remains a welcoming destination.

First impressions: Air France rocks! And the connections between Paris and Morocco are excellent. I have no idea how the 800 passenger Airbus gets off the ground, but a complimentary glass of champagne and a smiling Air France flight attendant (yes, even in “cattle car”) did much to lessen my fears. While Charles de Gaulle airport is geared to luxury and comfort with soft music, a MUSEUM, and comfortable seating throughout, the Delta terminal at Kennedy is the “wretched” refuge of “huddles masses,” sitting and lying around on the floor. Is this the impression we want to give our visitors?  Hats off to the TSA, however. Passport control now consists of scanning your passport into a machine.

Morocco sits squarely in the twenty first century. TEXTING is the norm. Freeways, skyscrapers, traffic jams to rival downtown L.A’s, Casablanca’s state of the art train station and sleek electric trams have transformed the landscape (downtown is now a giant pedestrian mall, how cool is that?) I browsed around the Galeries Lafayette, the iconic French store, at the Morocco Mall. STARBUCKS, KFC, MacDos and Pizza Huts are leading the fast food  invasion. A royal wedding in Rabat topped it all off (I wasn’t among the guests, but I did meet up with Mrs. Chirac, wife of the former French president, in the Rabat medina!) Rabat’s recently opened Musée d’Art Contemporain is definitely worth the detour, as is dining in a riverfront restaurant in the new marina along the Bou Regreg.

These pictures will explain: The NEW Casablanca Train station/Casa Port.

Listen to Kitty on Web Chats, Podcasts

Should you be sitting in front of your computer at these designated times, you can chat with me about Moroccan cuisine.

Monday, April 7, 2014: 1PM Eastern



Show: Eat Your Words with Cathy Erway.

The first  web chat will  air live online, on Friday, Oct. 14 from 3-6pm PT

at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/big-blend-radio/2011/10/14/world-radio-party




Or catch me on Saturday, October 29, from 5PM (Eastern) on www.authorchat.info 




Talk yo you on the Web!

The Kasbah Chronicles/Tagine of Quince


October 2011


Nothing surprised me more two or three years ago, than to learn from one of my “foodie” cousins in Paris, that “Alloween” (with silent "h", sic) had taken root in France. Dozens of sites initiated novices to la soirée d’Halloween, from cooking sites featuring cupcakes called “les caries de la sorcière” (the witch’s cavities) to other web pages giving step by step directions on how to carve your “citrouille” (pumpkin). Go to [1]http://www.2travelandeat.com/France) if curiosity gets the better of you!


Meanwhile: In the Moroccan kitchen!



Purchasing a quince is a great way to start up a conversation at the farmer’s market. Questions range from “What is this funny looking fruit?" to "What do you make with it?”


"Membrillo (quince paste), or quince jelly!" might be the input of Hispanic and Italian cooks. In Morocco, the seasonal appearance of “sfergel” (as quince is called in local darija dialect) is cause for rejoicing. Bouchaib, the cook/caretaker at our family riad, Dar Zitoun, couldn’t wait to head for the souk to purchase the first sfergel. Our dear friend passed away a few years ago, and in his memory, I offer you the dish he used to prepare. This tagine is an adaptation from the one featured in my first cookbook, Come with me to the Kasbah: A Cook’s Tour of Morocco.


Tagine of Rabbit with Quince

Tagine de Lapin aux Coings

Serves 4


Sweet “pineapple” quince is the variety most commonly available in the United States. You can substitute chicken legs and thighs for the rabbit.


2 quinces

½ cup honey

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons turmeric

3 pounds rabbit, cut up

2 onions diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup broth or reserved quince cooking liquid

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Core (do not peel), remove seeds, and cut quinces into fairly thick wedges. Place in a bowl of acidulated water to prevent darkening. Drain.


Transfer quince to a saucepan over medium heat, and barely cover fruit with water. Add honey and cinnamon. Cook until quinces are tender. Drain, reserving liquid.


Meanwhile, in a tagine dish placed over a heat diffuser, or in a medium casserole, heat olive oil and turmeric over medium-high heat. Cook,

stirring, until spices begin to foam. Add rabbit pieces and stir to coat, 4 to 5 minutes. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth (or quince cooking liquid) and salt. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook until rabbit is tender, 50 to 55 minutes.


With a slotted spoon transfer rabbit to a serving dish and keep warm. Transfer cooked quince to pan, and bring sauce to a simmer on top of the stove. It

should be quite sweet. Add honey, if desired. Season with pepper. Cook until sauce thickens, 6 to 8 minutes.


To serve, mound rabbit on a platter, and top with the sauce and wedges of quince (the photo above shows how carefully Bouchaib used to “carve” the

fruit!) Serve with crusty bread.


Join me for the webchats (see my previous post), if you can!


JOYEUSE FETE D'(H)alloween!

New title! The Kasbah Chronicles

Fall 2011

Friend and e-marketing expert Chris Pemberton came up with the catchy Kasbah Chronicles during a brainstorming session held over a strawberry waffle smothered in an Everest of whipped cream, specialty of the DipSea Café, in Mill Valley (CA). In addition to having brainstorms, Chris manufactures exotic spice blends such Moroccan ras-el-hanout, which he markets through his website, http://www.originspices.com. Merci, Chris!

 August took me to a number of venues in California, to give presentations on Moroccan cuisine and culture. 


The French Culinary Institute (Campbell, CA)

Seventy participants attended my talk in my hometown library, inVista (CA). What fun to see you all. Shokran to others in the Bay Area, who came to hear me, talk to me, or sample my food, first at the impressive International Culinary Center/French Culinary Institute in Campbell (CA),  then at the charming library set among the vines in St Helena (Napa Valley), Le Creuset’s outlet stores in Gilroy and Vacaville (I got to cook with Le Creuset's rainbow-colored, cast iron enamel tagines!) and Omnivore Books, a cookbook collectors' heaven in San Francisco. http://www.omnivorebooks.com.

At Omnivore Books. Stuffed dates? Are you serious?

(If you come up with a better caption, please let me know!)

As luck would have it, I took the opportunity  to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, both featuring works from the collections of Leo and Gertrude Stein. Gertrude Stein was one of my "literary heroines when I attended study university. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would one day stand in the middle of her recreated  "living room" amidst the Steins' awe inspiring collection of early twentieth century art.

 I know Fall is finally here because of the prolific crop of figs weighing down our Long Yellow tree. The abundance of fruit provides the impetus for ferreting out recipes that incorporate fresh figs! Please, please, share your ideas with me! Our scottie, Olive, is dedicated to the task: She eats figs that fall to the ground, but not before daintily removing their skin.

 THE HOLIDAYS are ALMOST UPON US:  Put up jars of preserved lemons! They make a great gift! The best Moroccan preserved lemons are the ones you make yourself! OR fill gift boxes with these Moroccan confections. Many presentation attendees requested the recipe for the almond and sesame seed selloh "truffles" I served as samples. 


Kitty's Selloh

Toasted Flour, Honey, Butter, Sesame and Almond Truffles

Makes about 50 (one inch) truffles

 Selloh, a traditional Moroccan confection made of ground almonds, ground sesame.seeds, and toasted flour, is usually served during the month of Ramadan. Moroccan cooks traditionally present it in a mound. If the mixture is too crumbly to form little truffles, add more melted butter. The recipe appears in my first cookbook, Come with me to the Kasbah: A Cook’s Tour of Morocco.

 1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 1/4 cups whole blanched almonds, toasted

1 cup (about 6 ounces) sesame seeds, toasted

2 tablespoons aniseed, toasted

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Powdered sugar for coating

 In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, toast the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours in batches, stirring frequently until the mixture emits a pleasant, toasted aroma and turns light brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cinnamon and the sugar. Set aside.

 In a spice grinder, finely grind in increments, the almonds, sesame seeds, and aniseed. Add to flour mixture. Stir in honey and butter. Mix well with your hands.  If the mixture is too crumbly to form little truffles, add more melted butter.

 Sift powdered sugar into a large bowl. Roll 1 level tablespoon of the selloh mixture between your palms to make balls 1-inch in diameter. Gently toss the truffles in sugar to coat. Set them in fluted paper cups. Selloh keeps well for up to 4 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Saturday, October 1

I team up with award-winning Chef Bernard Guillas of

The Marine Room in La Jolla


Macy’s Mission Valley School of Cooking

1555 Camino de la Reina

San Diego CA 92108

Reservations: (619) 291-1111


Noon to 1:30PM

Free and Open to the public


Until next time! 

NOTE: I am trying to free up shelf space and have posted a list of cookbooks for sale on the page titled:

Cookbooks for sale from my private collection. Please e-mail me for additional information.