Sunday, July 31, 2011

Moroccan Couscous

This is a dish I have been making a lot in France this year, but started making in St. Louis as well before I left. It is a great party dish because it makes a large quantity of food, and it can be easily adjusted to make more. It is also versatile because it can be made for vegetarian or for meat-eaters. This basic recipe included here is vegetarian, but one could make a side of meat for it.

Moroccan Couscous

Serves 6.

1 ½ cup couscous
1 ½ cup water
2 vegetable stock cubes
1 tbl butter
1-2 shallots, diced
1 tbl olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
5-6 cups of water
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cardamom
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp allspice
Salt and pepper
2 tbl fresh parsley
1 green pepper, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped in rounds
2-3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
½ cup orange juice
½ can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 cup raisins
½ cup spicy sauce

This seems like a lot of ingredients, but this is the kind of recipe that enables you to play with the meal based on what you have around. Last time, I didn’t have ginger, cloves, or allspice, so just did without, and added a little bit of herbs de Provence. Also, including a sweet potato makes for a sweeter broth, so if you prefer a spicer broth, leave that out and add a little bit of spice sauce to it.

This dish can be served vegetarian, as written out here, or you can make on the side some mergeuz sausage, cumin-spiced chicken, beef, or lamb, or brochettes to serve with the couscous.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Mix all of the dried spices together in a single bowl (save the parsley for later). Saut̩ garlic in the pan and add spices. Stir, then mix in the onions. After letting this mixture cook over medium heat for a few minutes, begin adding your chopped vegetables Рpotatoes, carrots, pepper and zucchini. In a tea kettle or separate bowl, boil about 5-6 cups of water. After the vegetables have cooked for a few minutes on their own, add the water, tomato sauce, and orange juice to the pot along with a vegetable stockcube. Simmer until the vegetables are soft. Add parsley when finished.

For the couscous, melt butter in a small saucepan, then add the shallots. Boil 1 ½ cup of water in a teakettle and add to the mixture with one vegetable stockcube. Once the water is boiling with the shallots, add the couscous and a dash of salt, and cover for 8-10 minutes. After the time has elapsed, take off the cover. The couscous will be in a single mass, so take a fork and gentle rake through the layers of couscous to loosen it, pouring the morsels into another bowl once they are freed from the mass. Sprinkle with olive oil.

For serving, add the couscous into a bowl, then spoon out soup mixture over it. As the liquid becomes absorbed by the couscous during your meal, add fresh liquid from the soup. Leave out for your guests to add spicy sauce, garbanzo beans, and raisins to their dish. Enjoy with or without a meat side.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Everything I know...about Mushroom Risotto

the lovely Christy in my kitchen!

Hannah making mushroom risotto in London!

Mushroom risotto is an absolute favorite, and I make it often! Here are some combined recipes from fishing around on the internet, and from making it with great friends!


6-8 cups of vegetable stock (I often just make this with a boullion cube)
3 tbl olive oil
1/2 a lemon
2-2 1/2 pounds of mushrooms (I tend to get a variety, champignon de Paris, girolles, shitakkes, whatever's available at the market!)
3 shallots, diced
1 bunch of arugula leaves
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
fleur de sel and pepper
3 tbl butter
1/2 cup grated parmeasan cheese
2 tbl balsamic vinegar

1. Heat stock to a gentle boil.
2. Thinly slice mushrooms.
3. Saute mushrooms in butter in one stove top pan. Keep sauteing while working on the risotto, and when finished, squeeze a fresh lemon over them (a trick from Christy!)
4. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil and add shallots. Cook until soft.
5. Add rice, coat with oil, and heat until you see a small dot in the center of the pieces of rice (2 minutes)
6. Add wine and stir until absorbed.
7. Add broth about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup at a time, until absorbed.
8. Once all of the broth has been absorbed, remove from heat, add mushrooms with their liquid, parmeasan cheese, and balsamic vinegar (another trick from Christy!).
9. Arrange arugula leaves into a nest pattern, and then place risotto over them.
10. Enjoy!

arugula nests

Note: A variation - when my friend Hannah makes her delicious mushroom risotto, she cooks the mushrooms and rice in the same pot. Works well, too!

in this variation, mushroom and arborio rice cooked in a single pot

multi pan project

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Learning About Pasta

visiting the Maison Veuve Clicquot
 I never tend to make much effort with pasta - it is often a back-up staple when I'm too lazy to make something more elaborate (with some exceptions, to be sure). But when my college friend and her sister, who has studied to be a chef in Italy came to stay with me in France, I jumped at the chance to learn more about pasta. While visiting friends in the countryside, Hayley made a gorgeous pasta sauce, and it revitalized the potential for complex and delicious dishes! Here's my most recent attempt for a friend visiting, in which I try to apply some tips I gleaned from watching an expert:

Zucchini-Borsin Pasta

Serves 3-4.

3/4 pound pasta of your choice (look for dry pasta that was made in bronze and not steel prepared... though I couldn't find this in my Paris mini supermarket)
3-4 courgettes/zucchini
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp fleur de sel
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbl olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 small onion, diced
1 cup white wine
1 can diced tomatoes (unless tomatoes are in high season)
1/2 container of boursin spreadable cheese
water for boiling pasta
1/2 cup grated parmeasan

1. Cut zucchini into medium-sized chunks while heating vegetable oil in a saucepan.
2. Mix salt and flour and lightly cover zucchini pieces.
3. Begin boiling water for pasta
4. In a frying pan, heat olive oil, then add garlic and oregano until it begins to sizzle lightly.
5. Once vegetable oil is hot, fry the pieces of zucchini in small groups until lightly browned. Drain over paper towel. Cooking these separately and then adding them to the sauce allows them to hold their own flavor more fully.
6. Once water is boiling, add a bit of salt and the pasta to it. Cook for suggested time (c. 7-8 minutes)
7. Meanwhile, add onion to frying pan with olive oil and garlic and oregano, and saute, adding the white wine in small segments and letting it evaporate before adding more.
8. Once the pasta is ready, drain it but leave a few cups of pasta water to add back into the sauce.
9. Add the zucchini pieces and tomatoe pieces to the frying pan, followed by the pasta, 1/2 cup to one cup of the pasta water, and stir together.
10. Add the boursin into the mix, stirring until melted.
11. Serve with parmeasan cheese, red wine, and bread.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Miranda's Orange Salmon

This dish is fast, easy, and delicious. Cooking the salmon in orange juice gives it a light flavor, and helps it retain its moisture while baking. This dish is especially great in the spring and summer, so long as you don't mind turning on your oven!

2 small fillets or one large fillet of fresh salmon
2 small shallots, diced
1 orange
1 cup orange juice (fresh is best, but any will work!)
1 tbl butter at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 Farenheit).
2. In a small bowl, whisk butter and orange juice together.
3. Slice orange into a few thin slices.
4. Place salmon in a baking dish.
5. Place orange slices over the fish.
6. Squeeze any remaining orange over the salmon.
7. Sprinkle with shallots and pour butter and orange juice mixture.
8. Bake for about 20 minutes and enjoy with a fresh salad, roasted asparagus, or spinach.