Moroccan Ras el Hanout

Ras el Hanout with 16 Spices

I’m in love with the flavors of Morocco: exotic spice blends, floral notes, fruit and honey, briny olives, preserved lemons; fiery Harissa; moist, tender braises; charcoal grilled kebabs, syrupy reduction sauces, couscous.

Egyptian Dukka (Dukkah)

Dukka Duo with Olive Oil

Chef Ana Sortun is one of the most inventive and adventurous chefs in Boston. What she does at Oleana and Sofra with spices, herbs, fruit, chiles, and nuts is incomparable. Each dish is a revelation of taste, texture, and color–even a simple dish, such as Spiced Carrot Puree & Dukkah. Who knew that chopped almonds, coconut, coriander, cumin, sesame seeds, and black pepper could taste so amazing—with carrots?

Italian Giardiniera: Summer in a Jar

Italian Giardiniera in the Jar

What a wonderful Saturday in cool, overcast Seattle. We started early with a 4-mile walk along the east side of Lake Washington and then shot over the 520 bridge to scope out the produce at the University District Farmers Market. By 10:00 A.M., the market was swarming with friendly but purposeful shoppers.

What struck me this week were all the “baby” veggies. One vendor had her large variety of summer squash tagged as “infant” zucchini and “youngster” patty pans. Another vendor had turnips the size of a marble. The carrots were so young and tender they were practically screaming, “Eat me now.” There were even baby shallots, as small and tender as green onions.

Rhubarb, Tangelo & Cardamom Marmellata

Toast, Cream Cheese and Rhubarb, Tangelo & Cardamom Marmellata

If you head to Cantinetta soon, while Northwest field-grown rhubarb season is still in full swing, you may be lucky enough to score the Rhubarb Zeppole with Orange Rhubarb Marmaletta. One word of advice here: DO NOT offer to share this dessert with your table mates. The order consists of four zeppole, and you will want four more when you’ve eaten those.

But as good as the zeppole certainly are, it’s the Marmaletta that has taken up residence in my cranium. And what, pray tell, is Marmaletta (or Marmellata, which seems to be the most official of the various spellings)? Well, to be completely prosaic, it’s jam. Yup, jam. The best darned jam you’ve ever tasted.

Candied Lemon Peel

Candied Lemon Peel

I have been wanting to make Candied Lemon Peel forever. If you have tasted the preservative-laden candied citron available in the typical grocery store, you understand why I had to make my own. There must be a better candied lemon peel product somewhere, but I haven’t found it.