Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Apologies

My apologies folks. I am nursing broken bones and I am simply not finding the motivation at the moment to blog. I do, however, plan a new entry before Saturday.

Saturday is my birthday and I will be away for that weekend. So, I will get something up for you by Friday night, August 28th.

Thank you for your continued patience!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Going Away Recipe

Well, I am going away for the next week and have been quite busy trying to get through each day with some badly shattered foot bones and a surgery that did not successfully fuse said bones. Another surgery is on it's way in a month or so.

So, I will leave you with a recipe and a bit about the recipe. It is the ubiquitous Moroccan sauce tomatish found on every table for lunch and dinner as a truly special condiment. This is not a cooking sauce as one follower of my column discovered. Jan down under if you're out there, you rock lady! Her dad, before he passed, found this to be the best thing ever with his lamb. Patrick, I shall never forget you kind Sir.

This recipe and information is reprinted from one of my first couple of columns written while living in Morocco. I was in Oujda when I wrote this particular column. Some has been omitted as it was just unnecessary verbiage for this time. Mohamed mentioned within was a friend of mine who actually sparked me to move to Morocco as it had always been a dream of mine. I tried out many recipes on him and his family.

SAUCE TOMATISH (tomato sauce), though not just *any* tomato sauce but the ones used here in Morocco and trust me, it is ubiquitious! You will go to no restaurant whether big and fancy or a little home cooking hole in the wall without receiving your sauce tomatish. It is also made at home betweeen 2-5 times a week if not more in my house. In fact, yesterday I made one version for macaroni and much later on, another version to go with our main meal. The stuff is habit forming and has become a comfort food for this humble cook. It is sort of like mac & cheese is for me; I will even scoff bad sauce tomatish!!

You will need to be sure and use tomato concentrate/paste which we purchase in large to huge cans here as your base. All of the recipes are based on that for two reasons. Number one, is that this is how it is done here and I haven't yet run into a can of what we from the West call tomato sauce; which I don't think would make a great base. Number two, it needs to have that strong vibrant tomato taste that only comes from very good tomato concentrate/paste. So, think volume when you buy your tomato paste and if you can get one made with plum tomatoes, all the better. A plum tomato paste will give you a close approximation of the bright red color and bold fresh taste of those available in Morocco.

Please though don't avoid this recipe if you need to buy "Hunt's" tomato paste, you'd be missing out on something so very Moroccan! Please choose the *sweetest* white onions that you can find, as truly, here you can eat the onions like apples! There is no hint of yellow or yellow onion in them at all and they carry the pink/purple shades on the outside the same as the garlic does. Also, please do use a light cooking oil or cooking oil blend containing no olive oil. Olive oil is rarely used to cook with and is reserved mainly for dipping bread into at breakfast and occasionally with mint tea as a mid-afternoon/late evening snack. Here, we all use a cooking oil which is a blended vegetable oil to cook with and it is sold in 2 or 5 litre jugs.

One thing I have done with my Moroccan cooking is cut the oil a bit. Most Moroccan women who I know use just far far too much of the stuff. I cut back on it without telling Mohamed and he thanked me stating that as one of the main reasons that I am a better Moroccan cook than his mother! Mohamed and I *always* fight over the sauce tomatish and last time we went out to eat I slapped his hand with a piece of bread. That was the night that he laughingly began to ask for 2 bowls when we eat out! As well as Miloud and other friends. We know enough to make plenty at home for a meal in Morocco. All of this column's recipes freeze very well and can be doubled, tripled,,,,,,,,,? I would suggest for now that those who are brand new to Moroccan cooking use this sauce as an accompaniment to your usual meals with nice flatbread (not pita bread) for dipping, or over pasta or rice for now.

Elizabeth's Wicked Sauce Tomatish

8 oz. Tomato Paste/Concentrate
6 oz. Water, plus extra for more thinning as necessary
2-3 Garlic Cloves - chopped finely
1 c. Sweet White Onion - chopped finely or 1/2 c. grated
2 Fresh Tomatoes - grated and set aside
2 Tbsp. Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley - chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Coriander - chopped
2 tsp. Paprika
1/4 tsp. Cooking Salt - or to taste
1/2 tsp. Fresh Black Pepper - oh go on and heap it just a bit!
1 1/2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

1. In a skillet or heavy bottomed saucepan place the oil, onions, garlic, parsley, coriander, salt and pepper. *Then* turn your burner or flame to low and saute until soft and translucent with no browning at all, stirring occasionally. Add paprika and allow to blend over heat for 1 minute.

2. Add grated tomato, stir to blend.

3. Turn heat up to med and add tomato paste. Stir and blend with other ingredients for 30 seconds. Add water and stir well.

4. Turn heat to med-high and bring to a bubble adding more water to reach your desired consistency. Here is personal choice time. Acceptable sauce tomatish can run from nearly "chicken broth" thin to as thick as canned tomato sauce and just a bit thicker. I like mine on the thicker end of the scale though sauce tomatish is never so thick that it doesn't slide nicely from the spoon.

Simply Basic Sauce Tomatish

8 oz. Tomato Paste
6 oz. Water - plus extra for thinning as necessary
1/8 tsp. cooking salt
1/2 tsp. sugar

Mix all together in a suacepan. Bring to a bubble and thin as necessary.


It is more than fine to "play" with your sauce tomatish and I follow one simple rule though. If the ingredient cannot be found in Morocco or it can be but is silly, then do not add it *if* looking for completely authentic Moroccan food. Here is a list of things that I have added to my own sauces and I leave the amounts to you bearing in mind The Essential Kitchen guidelines such as not 1 single dominant flavor. No mint either.

Lemon Juice - small amounts or it will be the base for or a soup not sauce tomatish.
Ginger - ground
Pickled Small Green Chili - chopped finely or added whole
Large Piece Lemon Peel
Small Piece Cinnamon Stick - though not done in my area of Morocco, you can use it.
More Sugar
No Sugar
Corriander Seed - ground, not to replace the fresh coriander
Garlic according to taste, I don't recommend using more than 4 cloves.
Fresh Thyme
Chopped Green or Purple Olives - it is very worth it to buy non-pitted olives, just don't use the "Martini" type and nix the pimento "jello" stuffed ones as well.
Sauce Tomatish is sooo good that even when it is bad it is good! As I said you will always find it served in bowls here with bread and your meal, BUT Moroccans also use this on homemade batatas frites (french fries), every sandwich stand has it on hand to pour into your hot sandwiches which we do at home and out. Sauce Tomatish is served warm or room temperature, never bubbling hot or ice cold. I prefer mine at room temperature to slightly warm.

I hope that these 2 recipes inspire you to try mine and get creative with your sauce tomatish. I would like to see as many people as in love with this sauce as me, Mohamed and our friends are. I now wonder what a meal would be without it and am highly disappointed, to the point of leaving one restaurant that had run out, for another, when I can't get or make it. Just as a by the way, Mohamed makes a mean sauce tomatish, similar to my own recipe!

c./23 July 2005 07.51
Oujda Morocco