Wednesday, November 23, 2011


A much loved fig and olive tepenade transformed itself into something new this year in Morocco.

Well..... because of the Eid holiday, markets were closed and we couldn't get our dried Moroccan figs for the Spanish/Moroccan cooking class that day. Never a shortage of dates here in the Palmeraie of Marrakech.
A new tepenade is born!

-Moroccan Date and Walnut Tepenade-

1 c Chopped dates, chopped
1/2 c pitted oil-cured black olives, chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1 T drained and rinsed capers, chopped
1 1/2 t Fresh thyme, chopped
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 c toasted walnuts, chopped

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Season to taste with pepper. 
Note: The olives and capers should be enough for the salt. But add if you feel that is where the balance is found.

This is great with soft goat cheese, sheeps milk cheeses such as Manchego, or alongside braised chicken thighs, or your tagine of choice.

Bon Appetite! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I say it over and over again, but it never losses it's essence to me. Morocco is magic.

Even in black and white, that magic of Morocco seaps it's way through every pore. I'm still very happy to be under your spell, Morocco.

Just finished another successful 10 day PMCA tour through Marrakech, Imlil and Essaouira. This group in particular was very special to work with. 7 attended yoga each day on various rooftops, to breathe in the prana and mediation while listening to herds of goats pass and calls to prayer in the distance. We read poetry at the table and made wishes in the walnut forest. All between working with our hearts and hands to dive head first into the cuisine of Morocco and it's people. A beautiful trip. Planting my footprint deeper and deeper there, and always hard to leave.

Till March, Morocco. Inshallah. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A New View

-A Grand Entrance And A Green Market-

The fog parted at 8:00 am, and a familiar skyline appeared on the horizon. We had been traveling all night from Newport, RI. Breakfast was in the works, and I was bringing a cup of coffee up to the NY pilot aboard to help guide us in. There it was... a View I have seen a thousand times in movies and from an airplane or car, but this was different. An excitement rushed through all of us as we settled our gaze from the bridge of a boat to the Big Apple.

Arriving to New York by boat was really quite dreamy.  My beautiful grandmother (Nonie, as I call her) loves to tell me the story about her mother, a 29 year old from Giswil Switzerland. Who explained to her own parents that she was leaving for America to start a new life. She did, arriving by boat to start that life, and settling down on a dairy farm in Southern California. Nonie fondly reminds me often that I must have some of her mother in me... with all this crazy galavanting across the world in new territory and stuff. I do hope so.

Incredible fresh chilies, lemon verbena, potatoes of every shape and color, crisp apples along side apple cider doughnuts, and everything else the Union Square Market could tempt you with in autumn. I got to roam and cook an epic meal on the boat with a brilliant and much missed chef-friend-soulsister-inspiration, Carrie. We rolled across familiar streets and jotted menu ideas down on tiny pieces of paper in the back of yellow cabs, and over iced coffees or Brooklyn lager. A whirlwind of a time in the Big Apple, but a tasty one as always.

Final meal at the Breslin before flying on a 10:00 pm flight from JFK to Marrakech..... let the magic continue to unfold.

x- Ash

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What You Desire

4:15 pm on Thursday.

The Osso Bucco had been braising for almost an hour now, and I was letting it go till 7:00 pm. Desirable anticipations of the sweet veal meat melting away from itself, in a pool of saffron risotto, set around an exquisite steeple of bone marrow. It will be beautiful. I mean, come on, what more could a party of 12 want tonight after a foggy Boston day!?

Wait, what do you mean you desire, lobster?

This is, in fact, exactly why I am here and offering up myself and my craft to do what I do best-- To cook what someone wants to eat. I honor that. So in that moment, standing in a large galley kitchen with swirling caramelized veal aroma around me, I did what any private chef would do. Traded kitchen clogs for running shoes, and apron for a purse, and down the dock I ran towards the main street of awaiting taxis.
I had been up making the perfect sofritto for my osso bucco since 9 am, and even my hair wreaked of simmering olive oil and sprigs of sage leaves. But I had just entered a whole new realm of chefing- the ultimate search and retrieve. Fresh local lobster is my mission, and I will succeed.

I quickly transformed into an aggressive machine that would do anything, and blow down anyone that stood in my way of getting my hands on a dozen Massachusetts lobsters. In mid-stride out of the yacht marina, my arm flew into the air and my gaze met that of a taxi driver. I was in.

"Boston Fish Pier, please" -I demand with an edge of girlish charm.
"Alright.... How you doin' today?' -my driver says to me as his eyes smile through the rearview mirror.
"I'm doing ok, my friend. But I am in an urgent and desperate need for 12 fresh lobsters, and I need your help. I need them fast, and I will pay you to keep the meter running while I get them"- I respond to my new partner in crime for Lobster mission 2011.
He picks up on my sense of urgency on the matter, and most likely smells the braised veal cologne I'm rockin'. He speeds up, and I fasten my seatbelt while digging out my phone from my back pocket.