For a legend, Paula Wolfert is surprisingly accessible: Every day, she chats with the 2,100 members of her Moroccan Cooking group on Facebook, fielding questions like "What's so special about Moroccan cumin?" ("It's strong and delicious; it doesn't need toasting to bring out its flavor!") and "Is there a substitute for semolina flour when making Moroccan crêpes?" ("Durum atta flour can be purchased in Middle Eastern or Indian food stores").
Paula Wolfert first got Americans excited about Moroccan food back in 1973 with her groundbreaking Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. This month she releases an update with 100 new recipes, called The Food of Morocco. The dishes herelake trout poached in a delicate preserved-lemon broth, spiced squash soupare some great ones from the book.
Moroccan Recipes: From Middle Atlas
Lemony Poached Trout: For this dish from northern Morocco, Wolfert poaches marinated trout in a delicate broth flavored with preserved lemons.
Moroccan Recipes: From Essaouira
Tomato-Caper Salad: This chunky salad gets a bit of crunch from diced green bell pepper. It's delicious served with flatbread or alongside grilled fish.
Morrocan Recipes: From Tangier
Tangier Street Bread (Kalinté): This bread is Tangier's version of socca, the chickpea flour-based pancake of Nice, France, but it's much thicker and more custardy, like flan.
Moroccan Recipes: Paula Wolfert's Cooking Tips
Paula Wolfert shares her expertise and photos with the members of her Moroccan Cooking group on Facebook. Here, some of her comments:
On Clay Pots
When Bram, the first clay pot store in the US, opened in Sonoma, where I live, I went in and greeted its owners with my best Bogart impression: "Of all the gin joints in all the world, you had to walk into mine!" bramcookware.com.
On Lamb Fat
While I lived in Tangier, my butcher usually added a chunk of lamb-tail fat to my lamb order for couscous. This, he told me, would enhance the broth's texture and flavor. And it did!
Morocco is blessed with an abundance of fish, but the humble sardine has truly put the fishing trade on the map. The next time you're at the grocery store, take a tin of sardines off the shelf and look at the back of the can. Chances are, you'll be holding a Moroccan product!