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Good Morning GUSbubbalas!!!  Now that I've calmed down from having half my diary draft disappear on this idiotic computer -- I can provide you with a brilliant recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks (ok, I have about 62 out 130 favorite cookbooks).  This one is truly astonishing:  Joyce Goldstein's Saffron Shores: Jewish Cooking of the Southern Mediterranean.

Celebrated chef and author Joyce Goldstein continues her exploration of the food and flavors of Jewish cooking in the Mediterranean.  As she traces the culinary trail of the diaspora, Joyce turns and affectionate gaze to the spice-infused dishes of the Maghrebi -- the people of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.


[T]he Sephardic people freely exchanged recipe and ingredients with their non-Jewish friends and neighbors.  This resulted in dishes that were not only rich with flavors of their new home, but also conformed to kosher law.


And because Sephardic cuisines defy narrow definition, Judeo/Arabic recipes are also included, with treats like buttery Sambusaks (filled pastries from Syria) and Samak al Camoun (Lebanese broiled fish seasoned with cumin) -- specialties from the regions of the Middle East that continue to influence the Maghrebi palate.

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I've made Moroccan chicken for years -- I've even preserved my own lemons (simple, and I'll provide a recipe below).  I use a Tagine -- because I splurged on a gorgeous one from the Le Creuset outlet store.

Le Creuset Tagine

Mine is red but some lovely person posted his/hers already on flickr.  The base is cast iron and the ceramic cone is designed to let the steamy liquids rise and fall, thus keeping the ingredients moist.  This recipe allows you to use a deep saucepan or dutch oven.

I've indulged and ordered Les Moulins Mahjoub Hand Made Couscous from Tunisia.  It is from a women owned farm.  Yes, $9 plus shipping is pricey -- but the difference from grocery store bought is astounding.  Certain luxury items are ok.

Couscous-Stuffed Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons
Joyce:  I love the classic Moroccan dish of chicken with preserved lemon and olives.  But this version from Saveurs de mon enfance is even more intriguing, with the its couscous and almond stuffing.  Casablanca and Marrakech are the cities where this dish is most popular.
Serves 4

1 large chicken (4 to 5 pounds), or a 4 poussins or cornish game hens
1 lemon, halved
salt for sprinkling
1 cup couscous
3/4 cup salted water
2 tblsps. olive oil
2/3 cup blanched almond, toasted and chopped
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed and steeped in 2 tblsps hot water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon1/2 tsp ginger

For the sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 small hot red peppers
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp saffron threads, crushed and steeped in 2 tblsps hot water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 whole head of garlic
1 large bunch fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 cups water
4 cups (1 pound) cracked green olives
4 small preserved lemons cut into quarters

Rinse the chicken well inside and out.  Pat dry.  Rub with lemon halves and sprinkle with salt inside and out.

Put the couscous in a steamer basket.  Sprinkle the couscous with the water and steam over boiling water for 10 minutes.  Toss with the oil and steam again for 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Fold in the almonds and spices.  Stuff into the bird(s).  Or for quick couscous, put the couscous in a saucepan.  Brin the water to a boil and stir in the spices.  Pour over the couscous and cover with aluminum foil.  Let rest for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.  Fold in the almonds.

In a large, deep saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onions until tender.  About 8 minutes.  Add the red peppers, ginger, saffron, salt and pepper.  Cook for a few minutes.  Add the bird(s) t the pan and brown on all sides, turning often.  Add the garlic, fresh coriander, and water.  Cover the pan and simmer until tender, about 1 hour for small birds and 1 1/2 hours for a large bird. During the last 15 minutes, add the olives and preserved lemons.

Uncover the pan and cook to reduce the sauce.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Discard the garlic, peppers and coriander (I have left all 3).  Transfer the chicken to a platter.  Cut a large bird into serving pieces or quarters; cut smaller birds in half.  Spoon the sauce around the bird(s) and garnish with lemons and olives.

Preserved lemons can now be found in most grocery stores.  If you'd like to make your own, it is simple -- but the marinating process does take some time.  They have a long sealed and unsealed/refrigerator shelf life.

Joyce Goldstein's recipe follows -- but I have used fewer lemons -- enough to fill a quart or pint mason jar.

Preserved lemons

16 lemons, scrubbed (I use organic)
Kosher salt as needed
Fresh lemon juice as needed

Put the lemons in a non aluminum container and cover with cold water.  If you have the time, soak them for 3 days, changing the water at least once a day.  If not, soak for at least a few hours.  Drain the lemons and dry them well.  Cut them into lengthwise quarters with a sharp knife but do not cut through the bottom of the lemon.  Spoon 1 heaping tblsp kosher salt into the center of each lemon.  Put 1 heaping tblsp salt into the bottom of each of 4 hot sterilized pint jars and add the salted lemons, packing them in tightly.  Cover with fresh lemon juice.

[I have made this in 1 quart jar or pint jar.  I think I can cram 6 lemons in the quart jar and then I get 6 lemons to ream out lemon juice.  I then top the lemons with hot water to within 1/2 inch of the rim.]

Seal the jars.  Store in a dry place for 3 to 4 weeks before using, turning the jars upside down and right-side up periodically for the first few days.  Do not be alarmed if a white film forms on the lemons; it will wash off.  Refrigerate after opening.  Unopened jars will keep for up to a year.  [Even the open refrigerated jars last for a few months].

To use the lemons, rinse well under running water.  Squeeze the juice from the lemon, remove the pulp and discard it.  Cut the peel into think slivers or fine dice.

And mega hat tip to 43north, here's a gorgeous dessert (perfect for Fall) from Saveur
Apple Clafouti

SERVES 6 – 8

Clafouti (or clafoutis) is a French batter cake, a specialty of the Limousin region, traditionally made with black cherries but also sometimes with prunes, apples, or other fruits. Our version is from Sally Schmitt (of French Laundry fame) who suggested adding apple cider syrup to the apple juices to sauce the clafouti.

3 eggs
1 cup milk or heavy cream
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tsp. sugar
2–3 tbsp. brandy
Ground cinnamon

1. For the batter: Preheat oven to 400°. Put milk, eggs, 6 tbsp. of the butter, vanilla, flour, sugar, and salt into a blender, blend until smooth, and set aside. Grease a 10" pie plate with remaining butter, then set in oven to heat.

2. For the apples: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and brandy and cook until apples are glazed and warm, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove pie plate from oven and immediately pour in half the batter. Arrange warm apple slices over batter, reserving juices, then pour remaining batter over apples. Sprinkle remaining sugar and a little cinnamon over batter and bake until clafouti is golden and set in the center, 25–30 minutes. Drizzle with warmed reserved apple juices

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