Thursday, December 29, 2011

my new year's resolution

What is it about New Year’s Eve? I remember when I was younger, I used go to parties and watch people drink and drink some more, get happy and happier, and then kiss the wrong person. These days, my favorite ways to spend New Year's Eve is with best friends and family toasting with rosé champagne and eating smoked salmon and caviar pizza. I love it when the clock strikes twelve and I'm kissing the right person.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
~ Bill Vaughn ~

As I thought about the new year or 2012, nostalgia and melancholy set in. 2011 was momentous for me. Losing my Dad had a huge impact. Sure, I’d lost my grandparents, my godfather, my favorite aunt and my husband’s brother but when it came down to it, really I knew nothing about the losing-your-parent club. And you never really understand that club until you're forced to join. The dues are horrible, the rules and regulations worse.

That was 2011. I’m truly looking forward to 2012 and my New Year's resolution...

Another fresh new year is here... Another year to live! To banish worry, doubt, and fear, to love and laugh and give!
~ William Arthur Ward ~

I have so much to look forward to in 2012. My new TV show Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence will launch nationally on PBS on January 14 along with a video-centric companion app. Joanne Weir Wines, which you will very soon hear more about, will launch in February and in March/April I will open my first restaurant, Copita. I have a lot to be thankful for as well as having all of you in my life.

May this new year bring many opportunities your way to explore every joy of life. May your resolutions for the days ahead stay firm turning all your dreams into reality and all your efforts into great achievements.

Happy New Year and love to all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

abdoul's tangia recipe, morocco con't.

The phone rang really early this morning. Half asleep, I heard Abdoul’s voice.

“Good morning! How are you? When are you coming back? The weather is beautiful in Marrakech,” he said in one sentence.

“I’m counting the time until I can get back there!” I said as I fell back into a dreamy Moroccan state.

To round out the cast of characters on my Morocco trip…. I have to tell you about Abdoul.

Abdoul was recommended to me by Meryanne, owner of Jnane Tamsna, where I stayed with my students for 2 weeks in Morocco. She said I would love him, that he’s the guide of guides, knows everyone and won’t waste a minute of our time.

Abdoul is a guy who’s bigger than life in both stature and spirit. When I met him for the first time, I felt like I’d struck gold. And as the days passed, I got richer and richer.

Every day we wandered into the souk, the hub of life in Marrakech. It's full of bright color, a mix of sounds and smells of olive, saffron, mint and leather. And it's wild! Scooters buzzing by and hawkers selling everything from shoes and purses to ceramics and rugs.
On the first day, Lisa, one of my students saw a straw bag in the souk that she liked. She asked the price. I think the shop keeper wanted 100 dirham or about 12 bucks. Abdoul said, “We’ll give you 50!” at which point he handed her a 50 dirham bill and grabbed the bag. No fooling around.

“Hmmmmm “ I said kinda liking this guy. Nope, Meryanne was right, he won’t waste our time.

The next day in the medina or center of the old town, we passed the same woman selling straw bags. Another student, Susanne, decided she also wanted a bag. In Morocco, if you buy two of anything, it’s always cheaper. This time, since Abdoul got a better price for Susanne than the day before, he gave Lisa back a few dirham.

Yup, I really like this guy. He's not only a great bargainer, he’s honest, genuine and a great shopper showing us all of the best artisans. But what I loved most was that Abdoul showed us streets in Marrakech where no tourists venture. We saw the real souk, his medina.

And to give you an idea of his generosity… He knew we all loved food and cooking and all week he told us about this famous stew called a tangia that the men of Marrakech made.

Towards the end of the week, he came to our kitchen at Jnane Tamsna and brought all of the makings for a tangia. Don’t get tangia mixed up with tagine, a popular stew made in a conical pot. A tangia is a stew made in a tall terracotta urn that’s cooked overnight in the embers of the hammam.

In the kitchen that day, he assembled his famous tangia and carried it off to the hammam.

The last night, as we sat for dinner by the pool drowning in the light of a thousand candles and live Moroccan music, there was Abdoul, carrying the tagine, still warm from the embers.

Was it delicious? It was as warm, inviting and wonderful as Abdoul!

Oh, delicious too!

Abdoul's Tangia

6 pounds beef shanks
2 whole preserved lemons
2 heaping tablespoons ground cumin
12 whole peeled cloves garlic
5 tablespoons smen or preserved butter (or unsalted butter
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup water

Rub the beef shanks with the preserved lemon. Place the shanks on the bottom of the tangia pot. Top with the remaining pieces of lemon, cumin, garlic, smen, saffron and water.

Place foil over the top and parchment on top of that. Tie securely with twine and place in the embers of a smoldering hamman (You have one in your backyard of course, don't you?) overnight.

In the morning, remove the twine, paper and foil. Give it a stir and serve this succulent stew.

Serves 10