Mar 31, 2012

Ground Beef Minestrone with Smen

This week, my brother and I took the shingles off of the garage roof and we are ready to add the new ones.  Single handedly I loaded up all of the shingles and put them in the dumpster. Yes, I am woman!  Afterwards, I felt muscles that I didn't know that I had. I took a lot of aspirin. Today, I took it easy (went to work at my real job) and cooked a well deserved pot of minestrone.   

1 lb ground beef, chicken, turkey or lamb
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 tbs smen
6 cups of water
2 Knorr bouillon cubes
1 stalk of celery, cut into small pieces
½ cup of uncooked elbow macaroni or broken spaghetti
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 cup of shredded cabbage
Salt/pepper to taste
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 - 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 – 8 ounce can of kidney beans, undrained
1 – 8 ounce can of whole kernel corn, undrained or  8 oz’s of frozen corn
Parmesan cheese
In a soup pot, cook the ground meat, onion and garlic.  Cook over medium to high heat until the meat is brown and the onions are translucent.  Stir in the remaining ingredients except the macaroni, spaghetti, and cheese, and cook for about 30-40 minutes or until the soup is somewhat thick.  The longer that this cooks the better it will taste.  I added Moroccan smen for that oregano flavor which it has.  If you don’t have it that is fine, you can add butter or leave it out altogether. Next, add the spaghetti and cook until  tender.  Serve with grated parmesan cheese and crispy bread.  Enjoy!

Cooks Note:  In the beginning I added 4 cups of water and saw that the soup would be too thick.  Add more water if needed and adjust the spices.

Mar 26, 2012

Chorba al-Khadra bil Djej wa Roz or Chicken Soup with Rice and Vegetables

Chorba al-Khadra bil Djej wa Roz is a light soup that can be eaten any time of the year. It is made by simmering carrots, zucchini and onions with chicken, rice and Moroccan spices and herbs. Whenever a recipe says to add cinnamon to something that is not sweet, I cringe.  I have found that if I use a pinch to start of with, then the cinnamon flavor will not overpower the dish. A one inch piece of cinnamon stick brings a wonderful flavor to many dish's. Don't be afraid to expand your palate by not trying new things.  Who knows, maybe you will find a new favorite dish to impress your family and guests.  
 2 cups of cooked chicken, diced
 2-4 tbs butter or ghee
 1 medium onion or 2 leeks, chopped
 2 cloves garlic, minced
 1 large zucchini, chopped 
  2 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
 2 celery stalks with leaves, diced
 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley and/or cilantro
 1/4 cup uncooked rice
 3 cups (700 ml) chicken broth or stock or use bouillon cubes and increase the water
 3 cups (700 ml) water
 salt/pepper to taste 
 1 tsp ginger
 1 tsp turmeric
 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 inch cinnamon stick 
 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper 
 a pinch of saffron, crushed
In a soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in the butter over medium heat for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent. Then add the garlic, parsley, cilantro and the spices and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the zucchini, and bring the soup to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Next, add the zucchini, and continue simmering for another 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender and the rice is cooked. Serve with a salad and crispy bread or khobz. Enjoy!

Mar 23, 2012

Gnawa: The Music of Black Morocco

Picture from here.

Did you know that Morocco had slaves at one time? The term Gnawa has three important meanings. First, it refers to black people who were enslaved in West Africa, they came primarily from the areas of present day Mali, Burkina Fasso, and Senegal to the Maghreb, between the 15th and 16th centuries. These black slaves served as soldiers for the ruling dynasties of Morocco. With time, the enslaved were freed by manumission, escape, and other circumstances, and formed various communities. 

The picture came from here.
 Secondly, Gnawa music is a spiritual music within Islam, with reference to their origin and their enslavement. Gnawa music is mainly a prayer to glorify Allah and a celebration of life and freedom as their ‘masters’ who enslaved their bodies failed to enslave their souls.

Thirdly, it is the style of music by the displaced and enslaved people brought to Morocco.  Their music has a soulfulness to it, which I really like. 

The song in the video is Sidi Moussa.

Mar 22, 2012

Dad and Old Pictures

Last week, one of my cousins sent me a picture of my Dad when he was 12 years old.  It is hard to imagine someone whom you only ever knew as an adult to have once been a child.  He face was full and his hair so neatly parted on the side with the arms of his sleeves rolled above his elbows. He was always very thin. I dream about him sometimes. Missing what could have been. He is now gone and has been for a while, but that doesn't keep me from missing him.  I love you Dad!

My Father is the one on the right, a mere boy at the time. 

Mar 20, 2012

Moroccan Veal with Chickpeas and Onions

Since I am a southerner by birth and grew up with southern parents, I know a thing or two about beans.  We have ate pinto beans, butter beans, and navy beans.  We eat them with fried chickn and cornbread and as often as we could because that was the ultimate southern meal.  However, when I came in contact with Moroccan cuisine I came in contact with garbanzo beans.  Afterall, I had never heard of them until I saw Roseann Barr on a commerical talking about them.  She was really advertising pizza, but all I really remember was the beans.  Anyway, I just discovered this recipe and it contains veal.  I used a pressure cooker for this one too. 


1 lb veal, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 large onions, sliced thin
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs or more ghee or butter
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
a pinch of saffron
6-8 sprigs each of parsley and cilantro, finely chopped
salt\pepper to taste
2 cans of chickpeas, drained
1-2 cups of water

Take a pressure cooker (or regular large cooking pot) and place over medium heat.  Add the oil and the meat cubes, cooking until the meat is brown.  Next, add the onions, parsley, cilantro, and all of the spices.  Saute until the onions are translucent. Add enough water to cover the meat by an inch or two.  Place the lid on the pressure cooker and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the meat in tender.  If using a regular cooking pot cook until the meat is tender, this may take an hour.  Once tender, add the garbanzo beans.  Place the lid back on and cook for an additional 20 minutes or longer if needed. This is not to be like soup.  The sauce needs to be somewhat thick. Serve with French or Italian bread or Khobtz or cornbread.  Enjoy!

Mar 18, 2012

Hello, Does Hope live here? Not for Amina

It came to my attention in the last couple of days about a young girl who committed suicide in Morocco.  She was raped by a man whom her family forced to marry to keep them from being talked about and save him from going to prison. He deserved to go to jail.  He committed a crime.  Under Moroccan law, rape is punishable by 5-10 years in prison or between 10-20 years if the victim is a minor. The judge recommended that the rapist marry the girl to restore her honor. Honor? Really?! My heart went out to Amina Filali . Rape is very traumatizing for a woman and to have to marry the person who violated you is hard to imagine.  What was her family thinking?  Morocco may seem to be the most lenient Muslim country in the East regarding women but still have a long way to go regarding the treatment of their women. Why don't people question their own culture and beliefs?  Why is Morocco such a "shame" based society?  I read several articles about Amina Filali and it was said that rape is not common in this country.  I really don't believe it.  My ex-husband told me about another girl who hung herself in the city where he used to live because she, too, had a sexual encounter and felt that death was her only option. Shame on Amina's mother for forcing her into this kind of situation. More importantly shame on her father for not being a man and standing up for his daughter. Was their good name more important than her life?  I guess so. The law protects public morality but not the individual.

She, too, was here. Amina's life had value, but her family was afraid to stand up for her. Shurma!

Mar 17, 2012

Authentic Irish Meal...Corned Beef with Cabbage

Today Ireland celebrates St. Patrick's Day. The traditional meal is corned beef with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots served with cream and horseradish sauce.  The thing about cooking this meal is how does one really keep the cabbage wedges together?  My cabbage wants to visit the other vegetables in the pot.  What can I say?  I really like this meal and really should cook it more often than once a year.  Here in America we call this comfort food.  I call it delicious and pass the platter please.


1 4-5 lb corned beef brisket
1 1/2 to 2 cups of water
1/4 tsp or garlic powder or 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
3 carrots, peeled and quarterd
3 onions, peeled and sliced
1 head of cabbage cut into wedges
6 medium red-skinned potatoes, with or without skin

Place the corned beef, water, garlic, and pepper in a large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours or until the meat is tender. You can also cook in a pressure cooker to save time. Cook for about 30 on medium heat and check for tenderness, then cook an additional 20 minutes until the meat is tender.  Add the carrots, and onions 30 minutes before the meat is done cooking. Then add the cabbage and potatoes and cook an additional 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  This will serve about 4-6 people. Enjoy!

Horseradish sauce:  1 cup of sour cream and 1-2 tbs horseradish, mix together and then serve

Cooks note:  The corned beef can be cooked the day before and then stored in the cooking broth.  All vegetables should be cooked the day it is to be served. 

Mar 14, 2012

The Kanga of Zanzibar

Slavery is an ugly thing.  Clothing for slaves was even worse.

The women of Zanzibar wrapped themselves in plain white cheap cotton cloth while they were in captivity.

Once they were free, the women began decorating their garments with hand painted designs inspired by the clothing of free Swahili women.

They painted their clothing to let the world know that they were free.

Did you know that the "official" outdoor garment for village women in Zanzibar is the Kanga?  Traditional clothing is what makes each country unique. I am envious.  

Mar 12, 2012

Mosaics are not just in Morocco

Before my exposure to the wonderful tiles of Morocco, I loved mosaics.  Often I would meander my way through books and dream of how my bathroom or kitchen would look with such lovely patterned tiles in them.  I have a folder crammed full of pictures and put safely in my desk for future creation. Everyday I drive past a long gone restaurant but there are a couple of places where tiles have been put into the wall.  So, today I went there and took these pictures.

I have always wanted break up dishes and things and create a mosaic out of the broken pieces. I was too scared to try.

In the picture below there is a cup at the upper left hand corner of the grate.

I have been looking at another place too. 

For a long time I drive by what appears to be a bar and think one day I will take a picture of the tiles.  The wall is in need of repair and many of the tiles are broken.

However, beauty is still there. So, you don't have to go abroad to see beautiful tile work.  Sometimes it is in your own city and possibly near your back door.

Mar 8, 2012

When the Moon is Full

Sit with your friends; don't go back to sleep.
Don't sink like a fish to the bottom of the sea.

Surge like an ocean,
don't scatter yourself like a storm.

Life's waters flow from darkness.
Search the darkness, don't run from it.

Night travelers are full of light,
and you are too; don't leave this companionship.

The moon appears for night travelers,
be watchful when the moon is full.


Mar 5, 2012

Music that soothes the soul or makes you want to shake your hips

Since I have started taking belly dance class, I have come to really appreciate Arabic music, especially Moroccan.  My teacher would play CD's with the most amazing music while we learned how to move like a belly dancer.  I finally got of the courage to ask for a copy of the CD.  Once she gave me the CD, I listened to the music all of the time. Then I came across a song that was the most sensous sounding song I have ever heard.  What was it's name? I asked the teacher and she didn't know.  I would try to move very slowly and deliberately while listening to this beautiful music.  After weeks and weeks of looking, I gave up.  One evening, I had my family over and was playing the CD while we ate dinner. My brother's girlfriend said I know that song.  Really?  She told me it was from the CD Moroccan Spirit and the song is La Mamounia, which is a restaurant in Marrakech. This is not traditonal music by no means, but it does have some traditional sounds to it. I ordered the CD and have listened to it daily since.  This is a very relaxing CD and,well, I just love it. I take it to work, along with many others, and listen all day.

I received this CD on Saturday and it is the best traditional Moroccan music I have heard to date. I enjoy the singing, the drums, oud, and finger cymbals.  Some of the songs are worshipful and some are remixes.  I really like this CD and will be listening to it for a long time.  I found a copy of this at my local library and loved it.  So, I had to add this to my collection.  It is called The Music of Morocco in the Rif Berber Tradition by ARC Music.  Listening to this kind of music brings me back to Morocco.  Who knows, maybe I will be visiting again. 

Mar 3, 2012

Angela Malik's Goan Salmon Curry

I have recipes delivered to my email address on a regular basis.  I saw a recipe for Indian Salmon curry but after looking at the ingredients I realized that it wasn't authentic.  As I was looking around on line I came across a recipe by Angela Malik who is a chef in England. She is a Scottish born Indian.  Just recently, she opened The Angela Malik School of Food and Wine in London on Churchfield Road. She says that food is a sensory experience that encompasses all of our five senses touch, taste smell, sight and hearing. The perfect dishes are a delicate balancing of the five tastes; slightly fiery, a touch of sour tang, with perfectly balanced salt and a touch of sweet, underlying it all the power of bitter or umami.

She has a video on Youtube showing how to make Salmon curry, which I was thrilled with.  It was easy to prepare and quick to make.  Most of all it was delicious.  This is what I love about Indian cooking, you are not in the kitchen for hours. 


1 tsp tamarind paste
1- 1\2 cups water
2 lbs of salmon
salt to taste
2-3 tbs vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
8-10 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 green chili, Serrano, chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp coriander
6-7 oz of coconut milk
2 tbs cilantro for garnish

In a medium bowl add the tamarind paste, water and a pinch of salt.  Mix well until it looks like Pepsi. Add the salmon and marinate. Place a wok on medium heat, add the oil and onion.  Saute until the onion is caramelized.  Then add the mustard seeds, and curry leaves and saute for about 3 minutes.  Next, add the green chili, garlic paste and ginger paste and the rest of the spices.  Saute for a couple of minutes.  Add the coconut milk and stir well.  Finally, add the fish and some of the marinade.  You will want the sauce to be somewhat thick, like a thin gravy.  Cover and cook until the fish is done, about 2-5 minutes.  Serve over plain rice with a leafy salad on the side. Garnish with cilantro.  Enjoy!

Mar 1, 2012

A Tajine Show and Tell

My new tajine arrived late yesterday afternoon. I already have 2 other tajines. I bought it from Zamouri Spices. The first tajine I cooked with was aluminum.  It was a challenge getting the temperature right or all of the sauce would disappear.  

The above tajine was the first one that I bought, actually, I bought two of the same and one cracked. They came from Zamouri Spices as well.  It is an extra large and will feed four people very well. What I like the most about cooking in the clay tajine versus the aluminum is the flavor.  The heavy lid keeps the flavor inside where it belongs.

This is a large and is the Moorish style of tajine.  It will feed 3-4 people.  I would like to have a medium one too. However, I have yet to cook in an unglazed version.  To me, it seems like the glazed would be stronger.  I don't know, I am not from that area.