Whole Fish Baked in Salt Crust

We’ve all either had or heard of fish baked in a salt crust; it’s one of the oldest techniques of cooking fish (as well as chicken, red meat and vegetables) that seals in the juices and yields moist, succulent fish that bursts with pure fish flavor, and only that!!

But how often do we bake fish that way? We’ve largely abandoned this method in favor of marinades (We love marinades, of course. They’re here to stay!) and have gotten accustomed to the flavorless convenience of foil. The last time for me dates to at least twenty years ago in my mom’s highly experimental kitchen, but I have never forgotten how good it was.
Continue Reading…

How to Make Labneh

Labneh is Middle Eastern strained yogurt cheese. You can make it by simply straining yogurt overnight to rid it of whey and turn it into a thick, creamy spread or dip. You can strain it longer to make thicker fresh cheese that’s firm enough to shape into balls, patties or logs and dredge in herbs, nuts and spices of all kinds.

Continue Reading…

Tafernout: Dented Moroccan Flatbread

In the villages right outside of Marrakesh in every direction that takes to the Berber mountains, you’ll find a fantastic bread called tafernout. It is a flat bread made from leavened or unleavened dough baked in a clay oven on a bed of pebbles or medium stones. I have never seen any flat bread like it.

When I lived in Morocco, tafernout was unheard of in cities or anywhere close by; it was reserved to remote villages where it had been secludedly baked for generations. Its popularity has crept up over the years that it is now available as soon as you drive a kilometer or two away from the city at rural joints and roadside restaurants everywhere in the South.
Continue Reading…

Strawberry Flan

This is another dessert I have made more than twice in the last couple of weeks. The reason is when I make four servings I eat three of them and have only one left for John and Maya to fight over (baby’s fault, of course!). The first time, John got to it first; Maya pouted for days. I had to make it again so I can have my three servings (!!) and leave one for Maya. This time I made sure she got it. Seeing that everybody liked it I made it a third time.

You see, with desserts this easy and quick to make, you’re really tempted to bake more often.

This flan is very fruity and a tad less custardy than other flans—it has a light bite to it because of the ground almonds. It is puffed up like a soufflé when it comes out of the oven but quickly shrinks to about three thirds of its size as it cools down. The bubbling caramelized strawberry syrup that forms around the flan makes it soo irresistible.

I have no doubt that if you make this flan, you’ll want to make it again, and again.
Continue Reading…

Celery-Cucumber Buttermilk Soup with Couscous

There is a Moroccan country soup that’s so simple yet so delicious. You never see it in books or recipe sites—perhaps because it’s so simple it doesn’t qualify as a recipe. It is made with lben (buttermilk) and couscous and, well…, nothing else. You either love it or you don’t. Nobody I know has a middle opinion about it.

I am one who loves it. I think you will too.

I have received a few email requests for Ramadan recipes and immediately thought of this buttermilk soup called saikok. I’m not sure if the name has a meaning but it sounds rustic like the soup itself. I thought something this traditional would be fitting for the holiday. I also thought the enzymes in the fermented milk would be healthful for the tummies of those fasting (and those who aren’t). I added celery, cucumber and basil for a fresher taste, added vitamins and a pretty green color (no longer so rustic-looking with the green color). It came out tangy, fragrant and refreshing—perfect for summer. And yes it is a cold soup; a Moroccan-style gazpacho, if you would!

Continue Reading…

How Argan Oil is Made

I have previously written about argan oil and its multiple uses in cooking and beauty. This time I was able to see it made at the source. Much of argan oil is now industrially produced in large plants but much of it also is still made the old-fashioned way, and you can still experience the pleasure of seeing women sitting on the floor, a stone mill between their legs, making liquid gold by hand. Those women usually work for local cooperatives and collect decent profits.

There wasn’t any fruit on the trees when I visited but I have seen argan fruit before and it pretty much looks like an oversized green olive. The fruit is eaten by goats who spit out the pits when they’re done. The pits are collected by farmers to make argan oil. Take a look at the goats at work.


Continue Reading…

Seafood in the Port of Agadir

Take a moment to locate Agadir on the map. It’s on the Atlantic Ocean, south of Marrakesh, on the way to the desert. Agadir is often remembered for the devastating earthquake it suffered in 1960 which left much of the city destroyed and many of its inhabitants without homes. But Agadir has rebuilt itself well. It is now one of the newer looking cities in Morocco, with better infrastructure, less population, and less hustle. Though Agadir doesn’t have many historic monuments or cultural sites, it attracts flocks of European tourists seeking the sun in the middle of the winter. It is mainly a sea resort or station balnéaire, as referred to by the locals.



Agadir and southward is where much of the seafood in Morocco comes from. Places like Laayoune and the up-and-coming beach town of Dakhla provide the country with supplies of all kinds of fish and shellfish, fresh or frozen on site and delivered in chiller and freezer trucks daily.


Continue Reading…

Nectarine Clafoutis


Twice tested, this recipe works! The first time, I made it with mostly nectarines and a little bit of plum. The second time, I used nectarines and white peaches. Stone fruit is gorgeous right now, don’t you think? You simply can’t go wrong with any choice you make.

Continue Reading…

The Gardens of La Mamounia

After breakfast, I set off for a long walk in the gardens. It was eight in the morning and the weather was still light and cool. The air had a ravishing smell that was a mix of jasmine, oleander and rose. The gardens were quiet except for the birds chirping and the gardeners tending to their plants and whispering a brief bonjour at the passage.

Ah, the gardens of La Mamounia, an oasis in the desert, a little piece of paradise.

Enchanting was my two-hour long stroll.


Continue Reading…

Breakfast at La Mamounia

Marrakesh doesn’t lack in pretty establishments but few are as iconic, as legendary, as old as La Mamounia. Presidents have stayed there. Actors, directors and singers too.

The breakfast buffet was of royal proportions. My pictures don’t do justice to how beautiful and copious it was.


Continue Reading…