Paula Wolfert's The Food of Morocco Book Review, Chicken Smothered with Tomato Jam Recipe & a Blogiversary Giveaway

I have written often before of my admiration of all things Paula Wolfert, but when I received a copy of The Food of Morocco, I had to wrap my head around it, and find the words to describe the enormity of Paula's lifetime work, encompassed in The Food of Morocco. I think no words of mine would do it justice just as the internet does not clue you in to the breadth and depth of this book and the spellbound photographic journey it takes you on.
I love my preview copy, more accurately volume, so much that I decided to celebrate Food Wanderings' second blogiversary and offer The Food of Morocco, from me, as a giveaway, to one lucky reader. A token of appreciation for all your support, encouragemt and friendship over the past couple of years. It's been an incredible journey with many new friendships and bonds formed along the way!

Jenn Garbee of the LA Weekly put it so eloquently in her Cookbook Review, Cookbook of the Week: Paula Wolfert's The Food Of Morocco, Now That's A Cookbook article.

Last week I made this delicious Chicken Smothered with Tomato Jam from the poultry section. It was a toss between that and Chicken and Caramelized Quinces. I served it with the vibrant Orange and Grated Radish Salad with Orange Flower Water from the salad chapter.

In the Bread Chapter I am intrigued by the Berber Skillet Breads and No Knead Middle Atlas Flat Bread. Thirtheen chapters in all with a super informative The Essentials of Moroccan Cooking, chapter two. Some surprising to me and tantalizing, Stone Ground Corn Grits for Couscous, Steamed Noodle Couscous and Barley Grits Couscous definitely makes me think outside the semolina couscous box. The list goes on and on, Confit beef and what I refer to as a Moroccan biscotti, double baked anise cookie, perfect for dipping into mint tea and for good measure a concoction of a Therapeutic Drink to Ward Off the Cold.

Photos, recipes and preview copy courtesy of  HarperCollins Publishers and Quentin Bacon's photography. Giveaway copy courtesy of Food Wanderings.

To enter giveaway:
1. Please follow Paula Wolfert on twitter @soumak and on Moroccan Cooking FB page.
2. Please follow @foodwanderings on Twitter and LIKE Foodwanderings FB page .
3. Please RT this giveaway on Twitter or post on your Facebook page.
4. Drawing will be done randomly from all comments recorded by Wed., Nov. 16. at midnight. Maximum 4 comments each.
5. Shipping only to a US address. Sorry my friends overseas.

Chicken Smothered with Tomato Jam
Serves six
6 large fat chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), preferably organic and air-chilled
2 large garlic cloves
Coarse salt
Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons saffron water (see page below)
1/3 cup grated red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon
2 pounds red-ripe tomatoes, peeled, halved, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons thyme or floral honey
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1. The day before: rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry; trim away excess fat. Slide your fingers under the skin to loosen it from the flesh. Crush the garlic and 2 teaspoons salt to a paste in a mortar. Mix with the pepper, ginger, olive oil, and saffron water, and rub under and over the skin of the chicken. Let stand, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
2. The next day: place the chicken, with its marinade, in an 11- to 12-inch tagine set on a heat diffuser. Add the grated onion, cilantro, 3/4 teaspoon of the ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup water and mix thoroughly with the chicken pieces. Cook, covered, over low heat, stirring once, for 20 minutes. then begin to slowly raise the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and the tomato magic or tomato paste to the tagine and continue to cook over medium heat, uncovered, turning the chicken pieces often in the sauce, until very tender, about 20 more minutes. Take the chicken out and wrap in foil to keep warm and moist. Allow the tomatoes to cook down until all the moisture evaporates, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching, about 1 hour. the tomatoes will begin to fry and the sauce will thicken considerably.
4. add the honey and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the tomatoes and cook for several minutes to bring out their flavors. Reheat the chicken parts in the sauce, rolling them around to coat evenly.
5. Remove the cover, scatter the sesame seeds on top, and serve hot or warm.

Notes to the cook:
Recently I asked my daughter, Leila, to test this recipe, since she remembered it from her girlhood in Tangier. She was thrilled with the results, telling me that two of her friends liked it so much “they actually licked the bottom of the tagine pot.”For best results, make this dish, as Leila did, in summer, when tomatoes are at their peak. Please remember to transfer a hot tagine to a wooden surface or a folded kitchen towel on a serving tray to prevent cracking.

How to make saffron water:
Nearly all the recipes in this book that use saffron, add it in the form of saffron water—crumbled, dried, and crushed saffron threads soaked in warm water. Using saffron this way is economical, and it brings out more of the spice’s aroma and flavor than simply adding a few strands to a dish. In fact, I’ve discovered that if I soak all the ground spices called for in a recipe in a little saffron water before adding them to the dish, their combined flavors are intensified and better distributed. So, do as many Moroccan cooks do, and prepare a small jar of saffron water. Dry 1/2 teaspoon crumbled strands in a warm (not hot) skillet. Crush again, then soak in 1 cup hot water and store in a small jar in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to a week. For longer storage (my favorite method), quadruple the recipe quantities above; pour the saffron water into a plastic ice cube tray and freeze into cubes. Once they are frozen, shake out the cubes and store in a freezer bag. Each cube will be equivalent to 2 tablespoons saffron water or a good pinch of dried saffron threads.