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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cookbook Review: Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories by Kitty Morse



Kitty Morse was born in Casablanca of French and British descent. When she turned seventeen, she immigrated to the United States. Kitty began catering Moroccan banquets while studying for her Master’s Degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This turned into an educating opportunity for her as she began to teach the intricacies of Moroccan cuisine at culinary schools, spas, and gourmet cooking stores nationwide.

For the last 25 years, Kitty has been a food writer, cooking teacher, and public speaker with nine cookbooks under her belt. She has even cooked alongside Julia Child to benefit the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She has also appeared on Food Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, as well as Moroccan national television. She also organized and led annual culinary tours of Morocco including cooking demonstrations at Dar Zitoun from 1983 to 2007. Her husband, Owen, documents the journeys through photography in each cookbook.

Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories takes you on a multi-sensory tour of Kitty’s life in Morocco, from the place where she was born to experience life through her senses using beautiful photographs and also involving your sensory experience as you cook these wonderful recipes in your home.


In Chapter 1, Homecoming, Kitty recounts her heart-wrenching story of flying back to Morocco with her daddy’s ashes and fear of her losing him when she landed in Morocco. His last wish was to lay to rest at his home, Dar Zitoun. He spent 20 years restoring this majestic Moorish home. I can see why this chapter contains Kefta (Ground Meat Brochettes) and Harissa (North African Hot Sauce). It’s a comfort food dish and one of my favorites. The recipes are very straight forward. The only thing you night have a problem finding is preserved lemon pulp. We have a large Persian community in Orange County. We went to three Persian markets to find this. The last store used to stock it, but the vendor they got them from went out of business. I used my Hawaiian roots and made my own mock-preserved lemon on the fly by mashing up peeled lemon and added some champagne vinegar. I found out later that Moroccan preserved lemon is preserved with salt not vinegar. Kitty has a cooking demonstration video on YouTube showing how to make Moroccan preserved lemons. You will need to make these 4-6 weeks in advance of the recipe. The kefta turned out tasty nonetheless. The flavors of beef and lamb combined with onion, cilantro, parsley, cumin, and garlic were the perfect blend. The parsley and cilantro gave it a refreshing green flavor. The barbeque gave it a charcoal grilled flavor. Definitely watch the grill and don’t overcook. The fat content is less in the sirloin and lamb so it can get dry or overcooked very fast. Harissa had a beautiful vibrant orange/red color. I used the NutriBullet to combine the ingredients together into a sauce in less than 30 seconds. The flavor is intense and vibrant with sweet, slightly spicy, and has a creamy texture. The harissa worked well with the kefta adding another flavor profile that became a symphony to the tastebuds. I would definitely add more chili kick to it next time. The next day, I made a Kefta sandwich with the leftovers (kefta, harissa, ans sprigs of cilantro on a French baguette). Thumbs up! 

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