Friday, August 22, 2008

Couscous

Last night was the first cooking class in a while, and I had a blast! I'd forgotten how much fun those things can be. Topic was morroccan food, which is awesome because it's totally out of my comfort zone. I'm really trying to cook new things and learn new techniques, because as I become more knowledgable about the why of things I've noticed that I often don't have the physical experience to back it up.

Last night was another new one for me - I got over my hesitance to work with couscous. It always seemed that either it would form up in a mass or be the pasta equivalent of sand, and I wasn't quite sure how to cook it.

Never fear, our teacher told us the trick to perfect couscous and I was floored by how simple and easy it was.
Here's how you do it:
measure out your couscous into a bowl, then pour in a bit of olive oil. Get in there with your fingers and coat it all up by rubbing the pasta through your hands like you are trying to warm them up. pour in your hot liquid - this should be enough to rise about a half inch over the couscous. It should be a flavorful liquid like stock, or in the case of the salad I made, dried fruit briefly simmered in water.
Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap so that no steam escapes, and leave it to go finish up whatever else you need to do. it should be ready in about 15-20 minutes. You'll know when you can squeeze a bit and it holds together, but also easily breaks apart when you rub your fingers.

BTW, I don't believe in exact recipes unless its for an exact science like pastry or bread. But here's the dish I made in the class, modified- I just eyeballed stuff:

Couscous Salad
The couscous:
1.5 cups couscous
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cups water
handful of dates, chopped up
handful of dried apricots, chopped up
handful of golden or regular raisins
approx 1 tsp tumeric, fresh if you can get it. use less if you have powdered.

The vinaigrette:
juice of two oranges, plus zest
juice of two lemons, plus zest
1 finger of fresh ginger, grated
2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
cinnamon, cumin, coriander, generous dash/to taste
large gob of honey

The mix-ins:
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
half yellow bell pepper and half red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 red onion, diced

Add dried fruit to water, bring to a boil.
add tumeric to the dry couscous. rub with oil. Once dry fruit/water mixture boils, pour into couscous, mix up and cover tightly with plastic wrap, set aside.

while the couscous is steaming, mix up the vinaigrette. salt and pepper to taste.

Couscous should be done after about 15-20 minutes, use the test as mentioned above. Fluff up with a fork so that the grains are seperated.
Mix in the mix-ins, pour the vinaigrette over and mix throughly. serve =)

I know I need pictures - had less time than I thought I did this week. I'm no good at uploading photos.

Cheers

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