Some of you may be familiar with smen, Moroccan aged butter famed for its powerful, tantalizing aroma. Oudi is a milder alternative to smen prepared in the Berber region of Souss in southern Morocco by clarifying butter in toasted barley and local mountain herbs such as dried thyme (the much-beloved azoukenni of the Berber people) or oregano.
Every holiday season, I see loads of pumpernickel bread — the cute kind so perfectly cut into bite-sized squares— in stores everywhere. I’ve always paused to look at it, thinking it would be great for holiday party sandwiches, canapés or tartines of sorts. This year I took things a step further and bought some, unsure of what to use it for. It didn’t take long for me to figure that out. The shape naturally suggested itself for an appetizer. A holiday appetizer, with holiday colors, no less.
Seeing chocolate being made right in front of me, transformed from cacao beans to a delicious chocolate bar, would have to rank up there as one of the most exciting food experiences of my life. I now know how to make chocolate! If only I could get my hands on cocoa beans where I live, I would replicate the experience just for the pleasure of it all.
We are back home safe, sound and thankful. Our trip to Central America was fascinating in many ways: Rainforest, ruins, skyscrapers, Kuna Indians, indigenous art and more beads than I’ve seen in my entire life.
Quickly popping in to say hello and share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes from gorgeous and pleasantly warm Panama where I’m de-rusting my survival Spanish and soaking up all that cosmopolitan Panama City has to offer.
I hope you have a fabulous holiday with family and loved ones.
The more places I visit the more I realize that all kinds of people like to stuff their birds for their holidays. One study suggests that it’s due to a subconscious need humans have to fill gaps in their lives. Another one says it has something to do with a desire to dominate other species. I know it kind of makes sense but before we go too far with this, I’ll stop the madness and say there are no such studies. I made them both up. But really…, I’m wondering why people everywhere like to stuff birds. It’s been keeping me cogitating a lot lately.
I wrote this mustard chicken recipe for the food column in The Boston Globe. It is creamy, zesty and perfect for the upcoming winter months. It is quite a change from a traditional tagine but still delivers all those well-loved Moroccan flavors. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.
Click here for the recipe.
I have received a couple of reader inquiries about cooking classes in Morocco lately. Many travelers seem to want to explore Morocco’s fascinating cuisine while on vacation. I have compiled a list of places where classes are offered. They present the convenience of a well equipped kitchen, ingredients included in the price and conviviality of a group setting. One can also hire a private female cook, known as a tayyaba (not to be confused with the masseuse at the hammam, also called a tayyaba), but that entails having a kitchen to work in as well as pots and pans, which may not always be possible when one is visiting another country.
So, I made a wish this morning at 11:11 and am planning to make another one tonight at the same time. Yes, you still do cute stuff like that at age 33 when you spend most of your day surrounded by bubbly teenagers. You can’t help but borrow some of their sunshine into your life.
You know what I love about a rustic tart? The simple fact that it is rustic. Rustic means it doesn’t have to look perfect. It only has to taste good. That totally eases the pressure I feel every time I’m about to start baking. With this galette, I didn’t have to worry about the crust coming out lopsided or try hard to make it look like something that came out of a magazine.
With the beautiful pears in season right now, it was easy to pick a fruit for my galette. I was considering apples but thought sweet red pears with some cardamom might be just perfect. Glad I followed my culinary intuition.