Grandma Elmaleh's Moroccan Cookbook

Hesperus Press  2012


Grandma Elmaleh’s Moroccan Cookbook offers a tantalizing collection of Moroccan recipes that were passed down to Lisa’s from her grandmother Sarah. Food writer Craig Claiborne hailed Sarah’s sumptuous table as being ‘Moroc­can cooking that a sultan would envy.’

For much of her life, Sarah Elmaleh, Moroccan-Jewish mother of a large immigrant family living in the United States, lived in the seaport village of Essaouira, an ancient Portuguese fortress town on the Atlantic coast which eventually come under French rule. It was a melting pot of civiliza­tions: English, European, Berber, Arab all lived side by side with prosperous Sephardic Jewish merchants descended from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, and Spain; hence her exotic kosher Mogador repertoire was derived from numerous foreign cultures.

Until her granddaughter Lisa sat her down, and made her share her culinary secrets, none of her recipes were written down.

This charming book combines recipes, reminiscences, and research accompanied by the authors own line drawings, as well as color photos by Amani Hassan. The book is a feast for the food-oriented reader. The recipes range from breakfast to family feasts, Jewish holiday celebrations, and a special chapter on grandma’s herbal remedies for bronchitis, stomach ailments, and liver ailments!

Since quantities and cooking times are not always specified, flexibility, crockpots, and cooking by feel are needed (since these recipes were translated from measurements like ‘handfuls and glassfuls.')

The recipes are easy to understand, most ingredients can be found in local supermarkets or ethnic markets, but some recipes do not tell how many servings they make.

The only rule of successful Moroccan cooking is that the end product must delight all the senses.

Recipe: Almond Cake

4 cups blanched almonds
Rind of 1½ lemons
5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Grind the almonds in a grinder together with the lemon peels.

3. Beat the egg whites until the peaks are stiff but not dry.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ground almond mixture and blend well.

5. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.

6. Pour this batter into a greased and floured bundt or spring-form pan.

7. Bake the cake at 350°F for 35 to 40 min­utes, or until it springs back when touched in the center.

From Grandma Elmaleh's Moroccan Cookbook by Lisa Elmaleh Craig (Hesperus, 2012).

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