Thursday, October 13, 2011

Please Email Again

I received an email through here asking for recipes. Somehow when moving the email was lost. Thank you for reading my blog and please resend your email for a personal reply. I am sorry that this has happened.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Back to Morocco

I thought you might be interested to know what Morocco is really like, how she transformed me and what she truly is. This was written while I was living there in the first eighteen months. I wracked my brain to be able to describe the trueness of this land which few understand. Enjoy.

Morocco, She Breathes

I have now been pondering this for eighteen months. Yes, Morocco is a 'she' and yes, she breathes. Blood courses through her veins, through her very heart which she does possess. Yet it is not the people of this land of which I speak but the very land herself. I lived it, felt it, knew it and how could that be? An actual country made of soil, stone, and clay live? Many nights I spent awake seeking the answer as to what had gotten into my own heart, system and life from this land of soil and stone, seemingly like any other. Ah, but she is not simply any other and therein lies the clues to the answers.

She is an old land, rough, weather worn, holding her children in her arms. She is a mother, a friend, a lover. Hmmm, thought is not the actual answer here as logic cannot dictate her, reason cannot speak to her and love cannot avoid her. A seeming lump of rock and trees, desert and mountain makes me almost laugh to think it. She grabbed hold of me that first moment I set foot on her. She held me as does she all, she said 'yes you are home, I am home and this is where you belong. Do not fear me, though respect me. Love me and I will love you.' Oh my!! Such thought and statement regarding a place. I had already lived on two continents and yet had not heard this tender old voice speak to me before. Anyone who has spent any time with this old lady knows of what I speak. All long to go back and hear her siren song no matter where they happen to be.

'Be good to me, love me and I will grant you a peace like no other.' Her words, heart and being resonate within me. Yes, her people wonderful, welcoming and warm but I have a feeling it was she who made them this way not the other way round, for she must surely speak more clearly and loudly to them, or perhaps not. Perhaps she speaks loudest to those newest to her; that I cannot answer. Much of this I cannot answer as it has to be felt, seen and tasted. But you can hear her, you can feel her arms about you, you do know a mother has claimed you and you do become one with her.

Yes, a powerful 'she' to be sure and not for the faint of heart as her grasp never lets go of a single one of her children. She grieves your leaving and wants you back and I have seen many a human being struggle and fight to get home to her. She cares not if one is Moroccan; she cares and asks only, 'do you have a heart?' Yes, I have a heart and it beats in time with hers.

c./ L. Elizabeth

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I always offer the following service but I have been thinking lately. Having pneumonia I have more than enough time for thinking. It is much like living in the great London fog of the last century.

With the holidays upon us, should anyone have a question, need a suggestion; I am here for you. I cannot always supply a recipe as they take so long to send to individuals. I am here, however, for any and all questions pertaining to food, drink, potent potables (Jeopardy! anyone?), the history of food, nutrition. OK, OK I could have simply said all of your food and drink questions but it just would not have sounded as Nigella Lawsony. Perhaps you didn't know but I WAS a Butterball Turkey Help Line girl. I spent two years saving over bronzed (yes burned) Thanksgiving turkeys and think that I saved at least one life from a man who wanted to thaw 'ol Tom outside in a plastic garbage bag.........eep.

You can contact me right from here.

Blessed Holidays All!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jaunt to Japan

Let us take a small jaunt to Japan shall we? We deserve it after all and before the holidays is the perfect time for a trip. This way, no lines, no waiting! I will explain the reason for this trip in a second but you're going to need to take the hand of the person on each side of you. Whether you like them or not, grab their hands and let's go! A close of the eyes and a snap of the fingers and we are now on the island of Mishima Japan. Neat trick huh?

I have brought you to Mishima for the beef; the finest in the world. Known as Mishimagyu in Japan it is well known to be better than Kobe beef by miles, and it is. Most of us outside of Japan will never taste or see this beef but today you will through me.

These beasts live on the isolated island of Mishima and are Japan's only thoroughbred beef. They feed on the lush grasslands and have no natural enemies other than man. The calming sea breezes flow over the island where there is more than enough room to roam, feed and rest.

Mishimagyu is fully marbled, including the tenderloin which is never seen in the West. This marbled richness is pure white and lends itself wonderfully to being eaten raw. The fat, so pristine, is often fried and added to scallion or garlic fried rice. When cooked the fat is light in flavor and texture; nearly translucent and is prized for eating. The fat is very close to melted at room temperature and is much more healthy than the beef tallow anywhere else.

This beef is so succulent, unctuous and sweet that many call it 'sweet beef.' It lends itself wonderfully to raw, briefly stir fried with sugar and soy and shabu-shabu (sliced thin and quickly dipped in boiling water or soup) applications. Were we to go to a Japanese restaurant to sample this savory delicacy we'd run approximately $18,000.00 per head. This is NOT your granny's meatball beef!

Sweet reward for having to grasp hands I'd say. Here is an authentic Japanese recipe for Mishimagyu using our beef tenderloin. Even better if you can get your hands on some Wagyu beef.

Mishimagyu Tenderloin Sweet Stir Fry

1 pound beef tenderloin, cut into 1" cubes

2 Tablespoons flavorless oil

3 scallions, finely minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup stock (chicken or beef)

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium high heat and add oil. Ass the beef cubes and saute the beef while stirring it occasionally 4 minutes. Add scallions and garlic and fry for 2 minutes with the beef.

Add into the beef the stock, soy and sugar. Continue to fry and stir until the liquids have reduced to a glistening gem of a sauce; approximately 5 minutes. You may want to adjust the salt by adding salt or more soy and you may want to add pepper though for this dish in Japan, pepper would not be used.

Serve with rice. You could serve this with udon noodles but again, rice would be the Japanese option.

Please buckle up for landing into a wonderful authentic taste sensation!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Morocco for Foodies Issue I

My Morocco for Foodies Issue I.

My apologies friends for taking so long in getting this column started; but here I am. Before I go too far I would like to caution that this is my own personal take on the foods and dishes from the Oujda to Nador areas of Morocco; basically the northeast and a bit beyond. While regional dishes and spicing is to be found, just as much does not vary; such as the 7 Essential Spices in *every* Moroccan kitchen. Oujda for example uses very little to no cinnamon in savory dishes yet sells some of the finest cinnamon to be found anywhere. I have yet to have a dish here in Oujda that contained the sweet warm spices save ginger. You probably have food experiences that differ from mine here and I would be most happy to post dishes from other areas which you know and make yourself or have been served.

I have been cooking Moroccan food for over 20 years; ever since I saw Madhur Jaffrey’s series on Morocco on PBS. Oh, that dates me! I found when I came here that my food was on target for Moroccan flavors and ingredients. To date, 500 Moroccan souls have tasted my own Moroccan food and have said “this is Moroccan.” I also have recipes from lala (the mother of my husband), Mohamed, the house maid, and a few “home cooking” restaurants which I ran home and copied!! So, let us take an epicurean tour of Moroccan food together. Whether you have been cooking Moroccan food or want to learn, I am here to help, guide, and walk you through my Morocco.

One note on Moroccan recipes from the internet. Many, many of these recipes are from Morocco’s restaurant chefs and bear little resemblance to home cooking. These are most usually large hotel international style or chain hotels. Also, beware of *any* recipe called Moroccan *style*, it is just not Moroccan!! I cannot stress this enough!

The 7 Essential Seasonings for Every Kitchen:

PAPRIKA: This is a must! It must be a very deep yet very bright red sweet paprika. You will pay for this as the closest approximation for those outside of Morocco would be a good Spanish or Hungarian variety usually found in the international foods section of good supermarkets. I am completely addicted to the paprika here and it is used in many to most dishes! Never in my life nor anywhere in the world have I tasted a paprika with so much vibrant flavor! If you can only find the stuff in a jar that is not imported and turns brown quickly, I might skip it. It just is not worth the loss of flavor and color to use bad paprika. It isn’t only used to decorate potato salad and deviled eggs here!

GROUND GINGER: Used surprisingly enough in many to most dishes again in varying quantities. Also again, this must be high quality fragrant and fairly strong ground ginger. An Indian ground ginger could be a suitable replacement and perhaps Chinese as well. While fresh ginger is called for in Moroccan style recipes; someone decided that “fresh MUST be better!” Wrong answer!! In Moroccan homes and restaurants I have yet to see any fresh ginger! Pungent is what you are looking for with the color, if possible, of very golden sand. I have discovered the delights of cooking with ginger now.

GROUND BLACK PEPPER: Again of the highest quality available to you. None of that old, dry, powdery pepper that is most likely laced with saw dust!! If you grind your own you want a medium fine pepper. The first time that I smelled Moroccan black pepper, during Mohamed’s “name that spice” test, I actually thought that it was sage! The smell and flavor are unrivaled. It packs a bit of heat to quite a lot of heat depending on how much you use. Most recipes call for a teaspoon or more! I also use it by the pinch when I am cooking foods of other countries for wonderful flavor and scent without the heat. This is used for heat here more than any other type of pepper.

TURMERIC: Here you may be stumped for finding good turmeric. Here it is finely ground to powder, the color of autumn gold and actually has flavor! It is *not* used in Morocco to color food but to give flavor. All Moroccan houses keep a box of “coleur synthetique digestive” to color foods. 98 little paper packets of an orange powder that colors foods quite golden. All I can say is that you must find turmeric that has flavor and a lovely aroma! There is also a turmeric/saffron blend that most use at home. More on saffron in a bit.

CUMIN: Yes, very essential though rarely used in quantity. I have tasted very few foods where I could actually clearly taste the cumin. There are a few dishes which call for quite a fair bit of this spice though usually it is a very background flavor. Get your hands on the most fragrant cumin you can find and Mexican could be your best bet. While vast amounts are not usually used it is most definitely an essential! I can smell mine *through* the container every time I am in the kitchen, mmmm!

SAFFRON: Remarkably not used every day or even most days. All of the Moroccan households and people whom I know, when using saffron, use either the turmeric/saffron blend or ground saffron. The ground saffron can actually be mistaken for turmeric in color and flavor! If one lives in or near the mountains where the crocus that provides the stamens for saffron is grown, then you will see more “thread” saffron used. Saffron is mainly used for “guest food” though does make an appearance occasionally in daily home cooking.

COOKING SALT: (Grey and unrefined) Here how I WISH that all of you could taste Moroccan salt!! The flavor is like no other I have tasted! While Morocco has fine table salt, which Mohamed prefers, I *always* use the cooking salt for dishes and for the table! It is course but like sand and one cannot see through it, it has almost a grayish cast. Please dear cooks do not use rock salt as a substitute! Kosher flaked cooking salt is as near as you will be able to come to Moroccan cooking salt; for this cook, it simply cannot be replaced!
Due to the length of this first column I am not including a recipe this time. The next column will have recipes using these essential flavorings. Also, it must be said that while these are the essentials and great Moroccan food is made using them, there are a few others which are fresh and only used fresh, *never* dried.

Here is the following short list as Moroccan home food is simple and delicious!

Lemons/Vinegar: They are equally substituted for each other unless of course making “lemon something.”

Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley: Again, a finer flavor than I have found in any of my travels about the Mediterranean! If purchased in quantity this will keep for at least 2-3 weeks in a white translucent plastic bag, rolled up and placed in the coldest part of your fridge or freezer door.

Fresh Coriander/Cilantro: I have never seen fresh coriander such as this. It contains the tiny white flowers as well as the top fronds and is fragrant enough that I know when it is in the house! Store the same as for the parsley and save your stems from both in the freezer for throwing into dishes and soups tied in a bundle. Great flavor in those stems!!

Garlic: Fresh garlic is a must, must! Here, at this time of year the garlic is shades of purple and pink with fat juicy sweet cloves. Do not be tempted to use dried garlic of any type; I may find out! Also keep away from chopped fresh garlic in jars! It has a taste and smell like garlic “gone off!”
I hope that you have enjoyed our little jaunt through the essential Moroccan kitchen, perhaps have learned a bit, but above all enjoyed yourself! Please DO keep in mind that this is my Moroccan kitchen from what I have seen and know in my own area of Morocco.

c.\2005 L Elizabeth

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I know, I know

Yes, I know that I did not get my pet peeves in on time BUT..............Sunday was my birthday and the beginning of what is turning out to be a 5+ day heatwave. It is beastly hot here with absolutely horrid air quality. It is 3am and my kitchen is the coolest room at the moment so I thought I'd sit here and bang about the keyboard for a time.


Number one has GOT to be carmel. There is another A in the word for that soft, splodgy, gooey wonderful stuff. It is caramel and my spell check immediately underlines carmel when not written with a capital C. Carmel is a place, carAmel is what we eat. Yes, it bugs me that much!

Running a close second is confectionate sugar. Ooh my eye is twitching ever so slightly at the moment. It can be confectioner's sugar, powdered sugar, icing sugar and I will even go so far as to accept what everyone called it when I was a child; 10x sugar but there is NO such item as confectionate sugar. See? There pops up the red underline yet again.

The number of people who have asked me, when I have been discussing Moroccan, Italian and Greek do you grate a tomato? How do you grate a tomato? You're seriously asking me this and you want to make ethnic food and/or have ever cooked in your life? The same way you'd grate an onion or carrot. Then I get, ''well I will just chop it." If I wanted you to chop it I would have said chop it. There is a reason for why things are done in this world.

"I added (fill in the blank of anything that does not belong in a dish and/or region's food) to spice it up. If it was supposed to have been spiced up, I would have again said so. People have such preconceived wrong ideas regarding ethnic food that they seem to think they know better than a dish that has been successfully feeding people for sometimes thousands of years. If you want authenticity you're in the right place. If you want internet and television pap that says you can add, subtract and substitute at will then I am dearly sorry but you are in the most wrong place that you could ever be.

At the very least I am real and honest.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Away longer than I thought and a death in the culinary world

Well, I have been away longer than I thought. Okay, so I dumped my fiance, had a few surgeries and my big toe amputated. Onward and upward now!

I just found out that
Alexander “Butch” Lupinetti passed away unexpectedly August 10, 2010 while on vacation with his family in Italy. Going to Italy had been a dream of his that he finally made time for. He was 69 and a personality larger than life. You either loved Butch or........didn't but you'd never forget him. He had a passion for life and BBQ. He won many many awards, loved to play the country bumpkin and was on Throw Down with Bobby Flay and a Throw Down Rematch with Bobby, Delilah Winder, et al. Butch will be missed.

Friday Pet Peeves will begin this Friday August 27, 2010. I have so very many culinary pet peeves that I decided this is the perfect forum for them.