Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Paula Wolfert's "the Food of Morocco" ~ review

The View from Fez gets many requests every week to review books that have a link to Morocco. Sadly many of the links are tenuous and we have to decline. At other times our workload precludes us from ordering a book and reading it for review. Thanks to the kindness of The Dallas Morning News, however, we are able to bring you a review of Paula Wolfert's 'The Food of Morocco'. The reviewer is restaurant critic Leslie Brenner.

I am so excited! Paula Wolfert, one of my all-time favorite cookbook authors, has just published an incredible book -- " The Food of Morocco." A review copy landed in my mailbox last night, and I spent a good part of the evening reading it, looking at the beautiful photographs, scanning the recipes.

The foods of Morocco, as Wolfert describes in her introduction, have been a passion of hers for 50 years, and the fruits of her half-century of travels and cooking this wonderful cuisine appear to pay off on every page.

I love to cook Moroccan dishes, and I've learned a lot from Wolfert's past writings on the subject. For instance, how to make preserved lemons, which I always keep in my fridge. And how to make light, fluffy couscous -- using instant couscous, but steaming it two or three times instead of just stirring boiling water in it. There's lots of incredibly useful new coucous information in her new book -- for instance which are the decent instant brands (that make fluffier, lighter couscous). Oh, and that the word coucous actually refers to the cooking technique -- various grains besides semolina are used in Morocco. And she includes a source for buying hand-rolled Moroccan couscous, which you prepare the same way (www.mustaphas.com). In this book, the recipes for the couscous stews are absolutely enticing -- one with lamb, pumpkin, carrots, chickpeas and raisins; another with seven vegetables in the Fes manner. Oh, which one to make first?

There are appealing recipes for skillet breads, a gorgeous section on salads, and what looks to be the definitive recipe for bastila, using either fillo, or better yet Warqa, the super-fine Moroccan pastry. Leave it to Wolfert -- she has developed what looks like a great recipe for it, using a paintbrush and a non-stick pan. The bastila filling calls for either chicken thighs or quail (yes, Texas quail would be fantastic!). There are also a gazillion enticing tagine recipes (lamb tagine with quinces and okra, chicken tagine with prunes and almonds), and lots of great info on how to buy, season and use a tagine.

I always start craving Moroccan food in the fall, for some reason, so this timing is perfect. I can't wait to start cooking!


The Food of Morocco
by Paula Wolfert, published by Ecco


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