Moroccan Jews have a big variety of cooked salads that are served like tapas, in small plates spread all over the dining table. My mother makes at least ten different cooked and raw salads for Shabat’s feast and for some jewish holidays but some of the salad she would never make during the week (Moroccans jews have strick rules about how to cook, when and how to serve, so when I tell my mother I made one of her shabat dishes on a weekday she is horrified). Continue reading
Monthly Archives: March 2012
I think the Moroccans invented harissa to upgrade food from good to excellent: perhaps they needed something to spice up the non spicy dishes or to add spiciness to the dishes that didn’t come out as spicy as they desired, or simply needed to be merciful towards their little ones. What I love about harissa is that it turns any plain sandwich (omelet, tuna, turkey or even a toast with avocado) to a fancy sandwich (below is a kale omelet sandwich with harissa and mayonnaise).
My grandmother used to make the perfect harissa: not too hot or overly spiced, just the perfect quantity of each spice. She used to use it in sandwiches and on the side of traditional dishes. My husband likes to put harissa on just about anything he eats. One day he discovered the beautiful and tasteful combination of harissa and ketchup when he added both to his burger sandwich. After that day, ketchup alone was never the same. My grandmother, who knew nothing about ketchup yet a lot about harissa added hers to Moroccan couscous, chicken tagines, fish and to the famous Moroccan cooked salads, like one of my favorites, Spicy Carrot Salad. For those of you, who are not familiar with harissa, it is a Moroccan spicy paste, made of dried red chili peppers and small hot chili peppers and spices. You can buy the peppers in Middle Eastern stores and even in some supermarkets (I buy them at Whole Foods).
This is how my kids normally greet me when they come back from school, after I’ve kissed them, hugged them, told them how much I missed them, and asked them how their day was: “Hi, Eema, can I have something sweet?”
Before I even reply, Alex is already standing in front of the pantry looking for something. “I can’t see anything sweet,” he says.
I tell him dates are sweet, dried mango is sweet, organic fruity lollipops are sweet, and chocolate is very sweet.
“But they are not real sweets!” he says.
I ask him to tell me exactly what kind of sweets he wants. I pretty much know the answer, but I like to hear his answers and descriptions.
“I don’t know, something like cookies.”
I ask him if cakes are also considered sweet.
He says, “Only sweet cakes.” Frankly, I am always craving a homemade cake to have with my mint tea, so I don’t mind baking one fairly often.
I ask Alex if he wants to help me to bake a cake.
“Today I am too tired. Maybe tomorrow.” But when he sees me cracking the eggs, he changes his mind.
This was originally a corn bread recipe. I changed a few things, like semolina instead of corn meal. And I added the orange slices on top with a drizzle of agave to candy them.