Archive for the 'Morocco' Category

02
Jul
13

Moroccan Fish Tagine


Because of Morocco’s interaction with other nations and cultures over the centuries, its cuisine is extremely refined with marked Berber, Moorish, Arab, Spanish and French influences – especially the first three. Cooks in the Royal kitchens of Morocco’s kitchens have refined the cuisine over the centuries and created the basis for one of the top cuisines in the Mediterranean basin.

Though I’ve not always been a fish lover, I’ve made this dish before and it was absolutely delicious every time:

Moroccan Fish Tagine

FishTagne

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 7 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups fish stock *
  • 4 small red snappers, cleaned, boned with heads and tails removed
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Add the onion and gently cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until softened but not colored. Add the saffron, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and turmeric and cook for additional 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the tomatoes and stock and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 20 to 35 minutes, or until thickened.
  3. Cut each red snapper in half, then add the fish pieces to the casserole, pushing them down into the liquid. Simmer the stew for an additional 5-6 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked.
  4. Carefully stir in the olives, preserved lemon and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

* Fish Stock

Makes about 5 1/2 half cups

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 7 ounces white fish heads, bones, and trimmings, rinsed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  1. Cut out and discard the gills from the fish heads, then place the heads, bones, and trimmings in a large pan.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients and gradually bring to a boil, skimming all the foam that rises to the surface.
  3. Partially cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Strain the stock without pressing down on the contents of the strainer. Let cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator. Use immediately or freeze in portions for up to 3 months.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!.

CS

03
Aug
12

Hillulah of Amram ben Diwan


Today’s is Tu b’Av (15th of Av), but it is also the yohrtzeit of Nachum Ish Gamzu, and the venerated Moroccan tzaddik Rabbi Amram ben Diwan.

The grave of Amram ben Diwan in Ouazzane, Morocco

Last evening, my good friends Raymond and Kim Amzallag hosted a get-together at their home for Rabbi ben Diwan‘s Hillulah. Who was this venerated 18th century Rabbi whose tomb became the site of an annual pilgrimage?

As Kim explained:

Born in Jerusalem, he soon moved to Hebron in 1743 and was sent to Morocco in order to collect donations for the Holy land from the Jewish community there.

He took up residence in Ouazzane where he opened a celebrated yeshiva and had many disciples. After 10 years in Morocco, Rabbi Amram returned to Hebron and, according to legend, entered the Cave of the Patriarchs disguised as a Muslim because it was forbidden for Jews at the time. Someone recognized him and reported him to the Ottoman Governor, who ordered his arrest. Rabbi ben Diwan fled and returned to Morocco, where he was welcomed by the Jewish community of Fez. He is credited with many healing miracles and had at least one son, Rabbi Hayyim ben Diwan. While touring Morocco with Rabbi Hayyim, the latter fell ill and doctors gave up all hope. Rabbi Amram prayed that Hashem take him instead of his son. Miraculously Rabbi Hayyim recovered almost immediately but Rabbi Amram  fell ill and died in Ouazzane in 1782.

Lighting a candle to the memory of Rabbi Amram ben Diwan and meditating on one’s personal requests…

His burial place in Ouazzane became a pilgrimage site and is regularly visited, particularly by people who invoke him to heal their illness.

May Rabbi Amram ben Diwan succesfully intercede with Hashem on behalf of everyone who needs a cure of any kind!

CS

07
May
12

Hillula d’Rabbi Meir Ba’al Haness, Again


Last evening, as has been the custom for almost 20 years, the home of Tammy and Sidney Cohen (partners at 18 Restaurant) was once again the center for a gathering of a diverse group of people. We came to commemorate the anniversary of Rabbi Meir Ba’al Haness’ departure from this world. On such an occasions we give tzedakah in the Sage’s name as we pour our hearts out to the Almighty about our most urgent needs.

The piercing eyes of a young Baba Sali as they follow everyone’s moves in the Cohen household

After Ma’ariv, each person lit his/her candle and proceeded to make their personal request starting with the well known formula, “Eloka d’Meir aneni – Lord of Meir, answer me…”

The table was laden with various trays of rice, chicken, fish, beef, meat balls and salads; as everyone grabbed a bite, the speaker regaled us with divrey Torah.

HaRav Yechiel Azoulay, spoke eloquently and with humor on the question of why Rabbi Meir was known as Ba’al Haness. Doesn’t every Jew have a personal miracle story he can tell? Why has only Rabbi Meir merited the added title?

The Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Birkat Yitzchak in Bney Brak, Harav Yechiel Azoulay

Rav Azoulay told over a personal story of a miracle Hashem did for his own family (when the Rosh Yeshiva was merely 6 years old, as the family expected to leave Morocco for Israel), a story that showed Hashem had saved a whole family without the need to invoke Rabbi Me’ir‘s help. He then proceeded to tell the story of his brother’s childless marriage (for many years), how Rabbi Meir’s intercession helped when Israel’s top doctors were unable to. Of course, as expected, his brother is a now proud father of a boy named… Meir!

Harav Azoulay explained that the reason for Rabbi Meir being singled out with the addition of Ba’al HaNess is because as long as one precedes his/her personal request with “Eloka d’Meir aneni,” and the person truly seeks the Almighty’s help that request will be always be honored.

An inspiring evening, Eloka d’Meir anenU! God of Meir, answer US all!

CS

RELATED POSTS

Hillula d’Rabbi Meir Ba’al Haness

31
May
11

Shavuos’ Minhagim: Morocco


A good friend emailed me a link yesterday with some Moroccan Shavuos‘ customs and explanations. I found them fascinating. I believe you will too, gentle reader, especially after master photographer – former Chairman of Fashion Institute of Technology’s Photo Department – Irving Schild, graciously allowed us to use two of his photos, taken during a recent trip to Morocco with the Manhattan Sephardic Congregation:

The magic, the enchantment, of Jewish life in Morocco - as seen through Irving Schild's camera lens...

Darké Aboténou 

26 Iyar 5771 – May 30, 2011 – Perashat Naso

Netibot Hama’arab – e”H Ribi Eliyahou Bitton s”t

Traditions of Shabu’ot

20) We have the minhag to save masot from Pesah, and on Shabu’ot they would crush them and mix them with milk and honey and after Shaharit of Shabu’ot they would eat this. We use milk and honey because they are compared to the Tora as Hazal say (Shir haShirim 4:11)  “Debash vehalab tahat leshonekh” – “Honey and Milk under your tongue.” So as milk and honey linger in your mouth, so too the Tora should constantly linger on your tongue. See more in Midrash Shir haShirim 11, Noheg beHokhma p.202, Nahagu ha’Am p.106, Yahadut haMaghreb (Shabu’ot), and Shemo Yosef Siman 143 by Ribi Yosef Benoualid zs”l, 1907.

21) On Shabu’ot we make a special dish called in Arabic “lhrabel” made from masa meal, sugar and mint, and they would form this mixture into long ovals to eat after Shaharit (see below for an example and the recipe found on www.dafina.net). This also corresponds to what is written “debash vehalab tahat leshonekh,” – “Honey and milk under your tongue” and this is why we eat more sweet foods than normal on Shabu’ot, in honour of the Tora and its misvot. See Osrot haMaghreb (Shabu’ot).

22) Many have the tradition to prepare a cooked food from the intestines of a cow [T.N. they would use it as casing for a sort of sausage called in Arabic 'Lkrisa] in honour of Shabu’ot. It was known that this was one of the tastiest meals, so they made it in honour of theHag. Also, Hazal tell us that half of the hag should be dedicated to Hashem (i.e. Tefila and studying Tora) while the other half to ourselves, (i.e. eating and singing) so they ate this dish for ‘oneg – enjoyment of the hag. See Osrot haMaghreb (Shabu’ot).

[On the first day of Shabu'ot some, especially those from Mogador, have the custom of making l'Ada - Lintria (wide pasta, tagliatelle) with pieces of lamb and fried onions with raisins.]

Courtyard, in Morocco - photo by: Irving Schild

We’d love to hear about your Shavuos minhagim. We also want to remind you about our Shavuos Recipe Contest, you can a nice package of cholov Yisroel cheese selections. Email us at:

kosherscene@gmail.com

CS

09
May
11

Chicken Tajine


This recipe is a delicious meal all by itself and it’s made in one pot, there is less cleaning and it’s an easier dinner to prepare. What could be more satisfying than the delicious aromas of healthy cooking wafting through the kitchen, especially when it’s all done with little effort? There are many versions of this dish; last eve some Moroccan friends, visiting from Israel, came over and this is the variation I made.

Chicken Tajine

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 onion, cut into small wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 lb chicken cutlets
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 8 oz zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 3 oz portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (see CS’ Chicken Broth)
  • 10 oz chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup prunes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dates, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook for three minutes, stir frequently.
  2. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 5 minutes. until all sides are seared.
  3. Add the cumin and the cinnamon sticks after the first 2 1/2 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in the flour, stir constantly, for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini, the bell peeper and mushrooms. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Blend the tomato paste with the chicken broth, stir into pan, bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and add the chickpeas, apricots, prunes, and dates. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is tender.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Garnish  with chopped cilantro or parsley (I used cilantro) and serve immediately.
We paired it with with a Willm Gewurztraminer 2008. With fresh flowers and citrus on the nose, flavors of pineapple, honeydew, lychee and apple with lots of honey on the finish. This is a dry white but with a subtle hint of sweetness on the tongue, elegant rather than big and bold,  it is clean, refreshing and with just enough acidity to accentuate the sweetness of the dish. A marriage made in heaven!
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy! We did.
CS
04
Mar
11

Snapshots of a Master at Work


Those who have been following this blog know that we love good photography. I was delighted, therefore, when the opportunity arose of attending two shoots Irving Schild was doing for Kosher Inspired Magazine‘s upcoming stories to appear in their Pessach issue

Looking for the best angle...

I’ve known Irving Schild for a number of years and have always admired his work, always marveled at his wonderful eye for detail, his eye for the unusual. I’ve seen his photos from a pilgrimage to Reb Nachman Bratzlaver‘s kever, a trip to Morocco, and to the wilds of Africa, etc. In each case, one not only sees an image, one experiences the soul behind it.

In a black and white shot of a quickly improvised shtibl in Uman you can feel the fervor, you can almost hear the words and the lilt of the heartfelt prayer; you anticipate the rhythmic shockle of the participants at each sound. As you look at his photos of Zulu warriors, their fierceness grips you, the piercing eyes cut right through you. When I saw the images of his Morocco trip, I was suddenly transported to the Mellah where the street sounds and the aromas were in my ears, in my nostrils.

Assessing the best strategy to tackle a difficult lighting situation... Photo by: Barbara Hornstein

Who is Irving Schild? What makes him click? He was born in Belgium, but in 1939 the family had to flee at the approach of the Nazis. They moved from country to country; with the liberation of Rome – by the Allies – in 1944 the Schilds were part of a 1000 carefully selected refugees invited to the US by President Roosevelt, as guests of this country. When WWII was over, the family opted to apply for immigrant status rather than return to Europe.

Irving served in the US Marine Corps and was trained as a combat photographer at the Army Signal Corps School in Monmouth, NJ. After the army, he attended Cooper Union in NYC where he studied graphics design. He went on to become art director at various well known advertising agencies. Eventually he decided to take advantage of his army training. He opened a commercial photography studio in Manhattan and soon his photos graced the pages of Life, MacCall’s, Esquire, Paris Match and more. For the last 40 years he has traveled the world on assignment for MAD Magazine. He recently retired from teaching at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology where he served as Chairman of the Photography Department. During his tenure at FIT he trained many students who went to become much talked about luminaries in their field. Though partially retired, he indefatigably continues to do commercial photography for various clients. His work has been recognized through numerous awards.

He has done food photography for major magazines including Bon Appetit, McCall’s and most recently Kosher Inspired. He often does his own food styling, applying the lessons learned during his four decades in professional photography plus his experience as an art director. He is currently hard at work on a collection of photographs celebrating the renaissance of Jewish life around the world.

A good photographer does not content himself with the camera’s result; certainly as he shoots he tries his best, but the work continues after the camera is packed away…

The original shot...

...the final composition

Some may find the above sample all too easy, but there were many other shots during these two days where the final result was not so obvious at first, yet in every instance the finished product was a true work of art.

Following Irving Schild for two days, as he conquered the problems of lighting, as he toiled on finding the perfect composition, as he took memorable photos, as he post processed the shots, was truly an education. He taught me how to see and how to feel my subject, I hope I may yet prove a worthy student.

CS

18
Dec
09

Somewhere in Marrakech


Just missing the story tellers, local souk and snake charmers, I walked into mystical Morocco when I entered Darna (600 Columbus Ave – North East corner of 89th; New York 10024; Telephone: 212.721.9193), right here in New York City, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Magically transported to the heart of Fez, Rabat, Marrakech or perhaps Casablanca and Rick’s Café Américain… I expected to hear the echo of Ilsa’s voice asking Sam: “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.'”

I arrived at Darna as they began dinner service. Carlos tastefully arranged a corner table for me while Katja navigated me through the extensive menu of surprisingly well priced fare.

I started with a Humus plate, which came with a zaatar (hyssop) pita and mixed greens.

Deliciously flavorful, it was followed by Moroccan Cigars with accompanying greens and tomato flower garnish atop a Tehina Sauce.

The meat filled cigars were crispy on the outside, tender and savory on the inside; a perfect blend of flavors.

Darna’s Stuffed Chicken was the main course, a whole roasted Cornish hen stuffed with prunes, apricots, raisins, mushrooms and almonds with a side of  Couscous (their signature dish!) topped with string beans and carrots.

The stuffed hen was tender and superb in taste; the side dish delicious! The meal was accompanied by a delightful 2007 Barkan Pinot Noir.

Darna means “our home” in Moroccan Arabic. The time went by too quickly; the homey food, the polite and friendly staff, the cozy beautifully appointed authentic Moroccan décor, the soft Moroccan music certainly made me feel like a valued guest at the home of some trusted old friends…truly a hidden precious jewel in Manhattan!

To borrow a line from the movie Casablanca, “Luis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” I’ll be back!

CS




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