I’ve only set foot in Morocco once, and that was several decades ago when
I was a young student studying abroad in France. I spent a quick 24 hours in Tangiers, hardly long enough to become familiar with the country’s vibrant cuisine. However, in Paris where I was studying at the Sorbonne, I sampled specialties at many of the small, inexpensive couscous restaurants that still dot the city’s student quarter. Over the years in I’ve remained a fan of the fabulous tagines, like the one featured here today.
“Tagine” refers to the Moroccan vessel (a two-part clay pot with a pointed top resembling a tall hat) used, but also to the dish itself. If you don’t own a tagine (and I don’t), you can use a large, deep-sided pot to cook this stew of chicken thighs, scented with Moroccan spices, olives, and preserved lemons. The chicken, which can be prepared ahead and freezes well, is cooked until it is fork tender and melds with the other ingredients.
In a recent cooking class, I included this dish, along with traditional couscous that I sprinkled with toasted almonds and golden raisins. In the space of a few minutes, there were no leftovers. This recipe is perfect for those of us who can’t get to Morocco, but who savor the country’s cuisine here at home or elsewhere.
Although some people declare dishes like homemade chicken noodle soup, spaghetti with meatballs, or mac and cheese their favorite comfort foods, my husband would choose a juicy hamburger to boost his spirits any day of the week! As a result, I am always on the lookout for new ways to prepare them. And, recently while visiting friends in Vermont, I discovered Pimento Cheese Burgers at a charming restaurant called The Downtown Grocery in the small town of Ludlow.
Turns out one of the owners grew up in the South and decided to top grilled patties with scoops of her family’s recipe for this classic spread. At home I whipped up my own version prepared with sharp white cheddar paired with cream cheese (for easy spreading), plus Continue reading
Over the past few years, while cruising down the produce aisles of our local supermarkets, I’ve picked up packages of spiralized zucchini, anxious to substitute the spaghetti-like vegetable strands for my typical high carb pasta. Cooking zucchini “pasta,” however, was not so easy. When I boiled it, the strands seemed to absorb too much water and were limp. Next I sautéed them and watched the threads break into pieces. This summer, though, while visiting friends on Cape Cod, I serendipitously discovered a successful cooking technique. Continue reading
Growing up in the South, my favorite dessert was lemon ice box pie prepared with a graham cracker crust, a smooth lemon filling, and a whipped cream topping. Mile-high lemon meringue pie ran a close second. Later, as a college student in France, I discovered individual lemon tarts, made with butter-rich pastry crusts that encased glossy lemon fillings. The truth is I’ve never met a lemon pie or tart I didn’t like! My most recent crush is a lemon tart scented with anise that I tried in Paris awhile back
At Baieta on the Left Bank, I swooned over a little lemon tart with Provençal accents. Continue reading
A couple of years ago while in Paris my husband and I met good friends for lunch at Le St Joseph, a small, unpretentious restaurant just outside the city in the town of Garenne-Colombe. It took 45 minutes in a cab to get there, but the restaurant was (as they say in the Michelin Guide) worth a detour. Every dish we sampled on that June day was delicious and creative, but the one I remembered best was a creamy corn soup dotted with drops of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. The French don’t often cook with corn so I was even more intrigued by this first course.
Somehow I didn’t get around to trying the soup after returning home. However, when our first local corn appeared in groceries and farmers’ markets this summer, I thought of it, and Continue reading
For a Provencal cooking class I taught last week, I chose melon and prosciutto brochettes as an opener. Although there were several show-stopper dishes on the menu, including grilled lamb chops topped with Roquefort and figs, and a glorious tiramisu prepared with strawberries and raspberries, those simple skewers were a huge hit with the students.
Wedges of perfectly ripened cantaloupe, ribbons of paper-thin prosciutto, and little
balls of fresh mozzarella, are speared and drizzled with quickly made basil-scented olive oil. The students arranged the brochettes (they made a triple recipe) on a platter, and then Continue reading
Recently, when good friends asked at the last minute if we wanted to eat out together, I suggested instead that our pals come to our house for a light supper. I knew exactly what I would serve—salade niçoise. Only a few days earlier, my longtime culinary assistant, Emily Bell, had mentioned that she had prepared this classic Provençal specialty, adding a few extra touches, as the centerpiece of a summer supper for a small group. When she brought the salad of colorful vegetables anchored by tuna steaks to the table, one of her guests pulled out a phone and began taking a video!
Typically, salade niçoise, is prepared with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, tuna (usually canned, but very good quality) and anchovies, but there are countless versions and variations. My friend chose baby red skin potatoes, haricots verts, and cherry Continue reading
Last month, my friend and talented cook, Mary Francis, wrote me about an unusual Caesar salad she had tasted in North Carolina where she lives. It was prepared with a serving of warm Parmesan bread pudding surrounded by Romaine leaves and a spoonful or two of roasted tomatoes or red peppers. She wasn’t sure whether the red condiment was tomatoes or peppers, but she couldn’t stop raving about the creamy smoothness of the warm pudding contrasted with the crunchy lettuce. The minute I read her note, I knew that I wanted to try to recreate this clever dish, but I had no free time in May.
Fast forward a month to Paris where I’ve been in June. For the past two weeks I’ve made several versions, all to the delight of my husband, who adores any rendition of this celebrated salad. Continue reading
Recently, my husband and I invited friends to dinner while they were in Paris, but, as it turned out, this couple had only lunch slots free. So, we decided to have a weekend lunch instead. I loved the idea of a mid-day meal, so I planned a simpler menu than I would have for a dinner.
To anchor the menu, I roasted thick cod fillets. Dotted with butter and seasoned generously with salt and cayenne pepper, they needed less than 15 minutes in the oven. Continue reading
Hadley, a neighboring town near Amherst, Massachusetts, where I live, is famous for its asparagus. In late spring, around mid-May, when the crops finally arrive, everyone rushes to buy a bunch. Farmers sell bundles of the handsome spears at outdoor markets and roadside stands, and not to be outdone, our groceries all display the verdant stalks with signs noting that they are LOCAL! Continue reading