Category Archives: Couscous

Couscous à la marocaine

HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2014 (with recipes!)

Another shot from my most recent trip to Morocco:

A cup of Starbucks Coffee at the HUGE

Morocco Mall in Casablanca.

A little cafe nearby serves mint tea,

thank goodness!

May you find much to celebrate this

holiday season

(preferably with a champagne toast.)

As I was huffing and puffing through my Jazzercise class this morning,

my instructor said she purchased 35 pounds of masa to make her

Christmas tamales.

For those outside Southern California, tamales are a Mexican Christmas

delicacy wrapped in corn husks, eaten mainly during the Christmas season.

Around these parts, families get together to make dozens and dozens

(and dozens) of savory and sweet tamales to share with loved ones.

Still huffing, my thoughts turned to my own version of tamales, one using

couscous instead of the traditional Mexican masa. I once took dozens

(and dozens) of corn husks to Dar Zitoun, to demonstrate to my Moroccan

friends how to make tamales (TAMALES FREEZE!)

The recipe is long, but believe me, the result is worth it!

 

Excerpted from my book, Couscous (Chronicle Books, 1999)

 

Kitty’s Pineapple-Banana Couscous Tamales with

Cream of Coconut

 

The inspiration for this recipe was a pineapple tamal I tasted while serving

as a food judge at the Indio International Tamale (sic) Festival, in California’s Coachella Valley.

 

Serves 12 (makes about 2 dozen tamales)

 

32 corn husks (see Note)

2 2/3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter

2 cups couscous

3/4 cup coconut cream (see Note)

4 medium bananas

1/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups dried candied pineapple chunks

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for garnish

3 tablespoons rum

1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Immerse corn husks in a large pot of boiling water. Remove from the heat,

and let stand until soft and pliable, 40 to 45 minutes. Drain husks and pat

dry. Reserve 3 or 4 husks to line a steamer basket or colander.

With kitchen scissors, cut  2 of the husks lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips.

Set aside.

 

In a large saucepan, bring the water, salt, and 3 tablespoons of the butter to

a boil. Add the couscous and 1/2 cup of the coconut cream. Stir to blend.

Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand until the couscous is tender,

12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.

 

Quarter the bananas lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch dice. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the remaining butter. Add the dark brown sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the diced bananas. Stir to coat. Cook until the bananas soften somewhat, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the pineapple chunks, cinnamon, and rum. Stir to blend. Set aside.

 

To assemble the tamales, position a husk so the long edge faces you. Place

1/4 cup of the couscous mixture in the center. With a spatula, flatten the

couscous to form a 3-by-3-inch square about 1/4 inch thick. Set a heaping

tablespoon of the pineapple-banana mixture in the center of this square, and

form into a sausage shape. Leave a 1-inch border of uncovered couscous

top and bottom, and 1/2 inch on the sides. Grasp the bottom edge of the husk and fold it in half lengthwise. Compress to seal the couscous to itself and enclose the filling.

Gently unfold the husk, then wrap it around the couscous, as you would an

egg roll. Fold over the tapered end, and tie with a reserved precut strip of husk. Compress the other end. Leave open. Proceed in this manner until all the tamales are assembled.

 

Line the bottom of a steamer basket or colander with the reserved husks.

Set the tamales upright, closed end down, inside the colander. Bring water

to a boil in bottom part of the steamer. Cover tightly. Steam the tamales

until firm and heated through, 40 to 45 minutes.

In a chilled metal bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold in the

vanilla and remaining coconut cream. Set aside.

Place a steamed tamal in its husk on a dessert plate. With kitchen scissors,

cut away a large, V-shaped piece of husk to expose the couscous. Spoon a

generous dollop of coconut cream sauce on or near the tamal, sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve.

Note: Cans of coconut cream are available in liquor stores or Asian markets.

To celebrate both the holidays and persimmon season, I offer up the

following in memory of my friend Margie Oakes of Oakes Knoll’s farm in

Fallbrook (CA), provider of the plumpest persimmons in San Diego County. Margie was also a contributor to my book 365 to Cook Vegetarian (Harper Collins 1998)

with her recipe for Easy Overnight Lasagne, an unusual meatless version

assembled a day ahead.

Fuyu persimmons can be eaten out of hand, like an apple (they resemble

a square tomato.) Hachyias must attain a pudding like consistency. In France, persimmons

are called “KAKI.” Go figure.

Margie’s Persimmon Crisp

4 or 5 Fuyu persimmons, peeled, seeded, and sliced (like an apple)

Fresh orange juice to barely cover the fruit

Candied ginger, diced, to taste

OR

Fresh, grated ginger, to taste

a sprinkle of cinnamon

 

Place all the ingredients in a pan, and bring to a simmer.

Cook about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.

Refrigerate until ready to eat. The mixture will thicken as it cools.

October 2014 update

I will be on my way to the real kasbah when you read this. As many of you know, I haven’t been there in four years, an eternity for me. Dar Zitoun awaits on the banks of the Mother of Spring.

I was thrilled last month to be interviewed for NPR’s The Salt Blog, where my recipe for smen, Morocco’s unique preserved butter, is now online. The recipe is from Mint Tea and Minarets.

Smen: NPR The Salt

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/10/09/353510171/smen-is-moroccos-funky-fermented-butter-that-lasts-for-years

A new Middle Eastern market opened in our neighborhood, and look at what I found:

Russian couscous, can you believe it? When I first arrived in the US in the mid 1960s, my grandfather had to special order it in New York from Mid East importers. Great exultation followed upon the arrival of our couscous fix in Milwaukee, WI!

and best of all, harissa made in Morocco, and bearing the name of Mehdia, the beach town and surf spot north of Rabat, where we rented a beach  hideaway  many years ago.

 

all from North Park Produce, in Vista, CA.

Bon appetit.

 

 

 

A HOT couscous soup for a cold night!

Joyeuses Fêtes and Happy Holidays!

(to paraphrase a Moroccan proverb)

 

To each of you, I send a box filled with sesame seeds.

 

Each seed representing one hundred wishes for peace, health, and happiness in 2012

 

Bonne Année, Bon Appétit and Bismillah!

 

A l'année prochaine!

 

 To counter grey days and world-shattering news events, I usually retreat to the

kitchen to ferret out the contents of my vegetable bin. Do I have what it takes

to make soup? Last week, while the rain pelted our skylights, I uncovered the

ingredients necessary for couscous soup. A true balm for the spirit! 

From my book, Couscous: Fresh and Flavorful Contemporary Recipes, a heart warming soup spiked with not-too-fiery harissa.

 

Spicy Tunisian Couscous Soup 

Serves 6

This soup is packed with flavor even if you omit the chicken. In fact, I often make a vegetarian version, adding other root vegetables such as turnips and rutabagas to the pot.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon Harissa hot sauce, plus extra for serving

6 chicken legs or thighs

3 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 medium potato, peeled and cubed

6 ounces pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

8 cups chicken broth

1 medium zucchini, diced

One 14 1/4-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained

1/3 cup couscous

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, coriander, cumin, garlic, and harissa. Stir to blend. Add the chicken. Stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, carrot, potato, pumpkin, and broth. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, 35 to 40 minutes. 

 With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones. Return the boned chicken to the pot.

Add the zucchini, garbanzo beans, and couscous. Continue cooking until the couscous is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with extra harissa on the side.

STAY WARM!

 

Happy 2010

          As I write, I can hear thunder rumbling in the background. High winds and pelting rain are so unusual in our neck of the woods that we had to take in a roommate, and allow Olive, our scott terrier, to sleep on our bed (normally an absolute no-no!). She had never heard such thunder! The end result was worth it, however. From the ocean, a ring of snow-capped mountains is visible in the distance, between Palomar Mountain to the south, and the San Jacinto peak above Palm Springs to the northeast. A rare sight indeed!

            Thank you to  those who purchased copies of A Biblical Feast: Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table. The list of stores (California missions and a few university bookstores among them) keeps growing. How about sending a signed copy to a special friend as a Valentine’s Day gift? The book is available at www.abiblicalfeast.com.

            Thank you, as well, to those who availed themselves of my consultation services, whether before traveling to Morocco or to organize a Moroccan banquet. (See the pages on this site).

            As I hear about the lack of water in the Central Valley, I remain deeply concerned about California’s family farms. This year, I intend to obtain updates on some of the farmers and home cooks who contributed so generously to The California Farm Cookbook (Pelican Publishing 1994). Perhaps you’d like to come along for the ride? I will share updates along with a recipe or two. 

            Meanwhile, the chill in the air of the past week generated almost a pavlovian response. I automatically headed to the kitchen to make soup. The following, adapted from my book, Couscous, fulfilled my craving!

Spicy Tunisian Couscous Soup

Serves 6

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon harissa hot sauce, plus extra for serving

6 chicken legs or thighs (optional)

3 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 medium potato, peeled and cubed

6 ounces pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

8 cups chicken broth

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices

One  (14 1/4-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained

1/3 cup couscous

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

             In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, coriander, cumin, garlic, and harissa, if using. Stir to blend. Add chicken, if using. Stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, carrot, potato, pumpkin, and broth. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones. Return boned chicken to the pot.

            Add zucchini, garbanzo beans, and couscous. Continue cooking until couscous is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with extra harissa on the side. Enjoy!

 Bismillah!

Couscous with Seasonal Vegetables

Serves 6

A vegetarian version of the Moroccan national dish. Meat eaters will add lamb, beef, or chicken. Use any seasonal vegetable or root vegetables. In Casablanca, Couscous Beidaoui includes at least seven different kinds.

1  1/3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 threads Spanish saffron, crushed
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup frozen baby lima beans
1 small onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium green zucchini, peeled an diced
1 medium yellow zucchini, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and the saffron to a boil. Add the couscous and the lima beans. Stir once. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until couscous is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. (Couscous should yield about 3 cups.)

In a medium skillet over medium high, heat the remaining olive oil. Cook the onion, carrot and garlic, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables. Cook, stirring, until zucchini is crisp tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, mound the couscous on a platter, and top with the vegetables.

copyright Kitty Morse 2008.