Thursday, August 30, 2007

Very quick couscous recipe with salad and peppers

Here's a great couscous recipe which is suitable for vegetarians and can be rustled up in just ten minutes. It's from the Waitrose supermarket chain so it uses some of their own line products as ingredients, but obviously you can adapt those quite easily if there isn't a Waitrose store near you.

Serves: 4

180g Waitrose Wholesome Couscous
300ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
350g jar Gaea Flame Roasted Red Peppers, drained
1 ripe medium avocado
1 bunch salad onions
½ cucumber
100g cherry vine tomatoes
160g bag Waitrose Beetroot Salad leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Waitrose Balsamic Vinegar

1. Place the couscous in a bowl, add the stock and leave for 5 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and allow to cool completely.
2. Roughly chop the peppers. Halve the avocado, remove the stone and peel, then chop the flesh roughly. Trim and finely chop the salad onions. Peel and halve the cucumber lengthways, remove the seeds using a teaspoon, then slice into chunky pieces. Halve the tomatoes.
3. When ready to serve, place the cooled couscous, peppers, avocado, onion, cucumber, tomato and salad leaves in a serving bowl. Whisk the lemon juice and vinegar together with a little seasoning and drizzle over the salad. Toss well and serve, either as a meal in itself, or with hand-carved turkey or ham slices from the deli counter, plus warm crusty bread.

Cook's tips

Try using vegetables such as roasted courgettes, red onions and aubergines, or use millet or bulghur wheat instead of couscous.

Drinks recommendation

Serve with a glass of cider.

Acknowledged Source of couscous recipe:

from Waitrose

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Barley couscous recipe

Delicious Barley Couscous recipe

I'm pointing out a barley couscous recipe for a change because not everybody realizes this but ordinary couscous is made from durum wheat. Essentially, it's a type of pasta. Now modern dieticians recommend that you don't eat pasta more than 2 or three times a week so if you've already had spaghetti one day, lasagne another and then fancy couscous the next well, what do you do? One solutions, and this is great for people with wheat allergies, is barley couscous. Barley couscous has an interesting slightly nutty flavor which just adds another great alternative to wild rice, quinoa, wheat couscous and so on. This recipe comes from Belazu, the people who make barley couscous and also an excellent though rather mild rose harrissa.

Barley Couscous, Beetroot & Feta Salad
Serves 4

* 1 large raw beetroot
* 2 smallish red onions, finely sliced
* 60ml lemon juice (about 1 juicy lemon) or any white vinegar (ie cider, rice or white wine vinegar)
* ½ tsp caster sugar
* 250g Belazu Barley Couscous
* 1 tsp Maldon salt (or 1/3 tsp fine salt)
* a generous grinding of black pepper
* 2 handfuls of flat parsley leaves
* 150g feta, crumbled
* 50ml extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Wrap the beetroot tightly in foil and bake in the oven for 90 minutes, until a sharp knife can be pushed through it easily. Remove from the oven; peel off the foil and leave to cool.

Toss the onions with the lemon juice and sugar and leave them in the fridge for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put the couscous in a bowl and pour on enough cold water to barely cover, add the salt and pepper and mix well. After 5 minutes, when the couscous will have absorbed all the water, add 125ml of hot water and mix well to fluff it up.
Peel the beetroot – the skin can usually be rubbed off, but use a paring knife if it’s being too difficult. Cut into chunks and add to the couscous. Toss in the onions and lemon juice, the parsley, half the feta and the olive oil. Mix everything together and divide among 4 plates, then sprinkle the remaining feta on top.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Couscous Recipe Video

This couscous recipe video was made using animoto. Upload a few photos and some music, steam for 3 minutes. Add seasoning to taste

Friday, August 24, 2007

couscous recipe with fish

The aim of this video is to show the process of preparing the pan with fish and vegetables to go with the couscous recipe.

OK, the meal on show was actually part of an art video project, but the meal was taken home and eaten by my family straight afterwards. You can ask my two sons.


1 rather splendid looking Parrot fish
2 chopped onions, celery, garlic, chilli and ginger.
3 Oil
4 sweet peppers
5 Real cider

6 Instant couscous


Well you can see what to do in the video. Start by sauteing the chopped onion, garlic and ginger in a pan with some vegetable oil. After a while add more chopped vegetables. Lay the fish on top. Pour in the cider. Now this is important, it must be real cider made from apple juice, not industrial cider which is chaptalised with glucose syrop and concentrate then watered down to strength. So forget Strongbow and Magners and get something like Westons organic vintage or a good Normandy brut.

Turn the fish over after a few minutes, turn off the heat and cover.

To make the couscous, place two cups of instant medium grain couscous in a bowl, ladle on a couple of spoonsfull of the liquid from the fish, and add freshly boiled water so that the couscous is covered with an extra half inch of liquid above the surface of the grains. This half inch will quickly be absorbed so measure it by eye straight away, then cover the bowl with a plate.

Three minutes later you can divide up the couscous onto three plates and place the vegetable and fish on top. How you share one fish between three people is up to you - it's only a lunch.

I hope you enjoyed this video and couscous recipe. Cheers

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Couscous recipe photos on Flickr

We have a couscous recipe group on Flickr now with a handful of members, so soon we should be able to brighten up the appearance of the blog here withe some nice colourful photos. That's a good place for asking questions and generall discussion too. For example Linda has volunteered to write about her minestrone with Orzo recipe there, which I'm sure will make a tasty addition to the couscous recipe collection.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Orzo recipes

Any type of couscous recipe is going to be pretty similar to those that are called Orzo recipes. The reason is because Orzu is another name for rice shaped pasta and that, pretty much, is what couscous is. Yes it's true. Couscous is pasta. It's actually the best type of pasta you can get, and orginally each tiny ball of wheat flour was rolled by hand but pasta is just an italian word which means "paste" and we all know that paste is made out of flour and water. Heck, you can use it to hang your wallpaper up at a pinch.

Back to Orzo.

The main difference between Orzo and Couscous is in the shape of the grains, which then also affects the texture. Orzo grains are rice shapes. They are little cigar shaped cylinders. Couscous grains on teh other hand are smaller and rough spherical, with slightly squared sides. You've never looked that closely? Why even the naked eye can see it, but a strong magnifying glass is recommended if you want to see the true shape of your favourite brand of couscous.

So Orzo recipes can generally be adapted to make a couscous dish. Just don't boil the couscous grain for 3 minutes or whatever they say for Orzo. And be aware that dry couscous swells up in liquid by a larger proportion than other pastas. That's all there is to it really.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Couscous recipe - who needs one?

Who needs a couscous recipe anyway?

After a successful dinner party it's quite likely that one of the guests will ask me for the couscous recipe or something like that. It's a tricky situation because when I tell them there isn't a recipe, they often don't believe me. They think I'm holding back a secret, keeping the special knowledge to myself. Let me tell you the secret now. There is no couscous recipe! Couscous, like many of the world's favourites is a peasant dish. Irish stew. Cottage pie. Minestrone. Cornish Pasty. Lancashire Hotpot. All absolutely delicious in their own right but do you know what? Thay are all basically great ways of using up leftover ingredients. Whatever you happen to have handy can usually be included, within reason. There are some basic necessities, like beef for the Irish stew, swede for the pasties, vermicelli for the minestrone, but most of the other ingredients can be substituted for something else. As for measuring out quantities, well that's just a waste of time. It's something people think they need to do when they are just learning how to cook.

Couscous recipe - Ingredients

This is not a couscous recipe - ingredients

So now I'm going to tell you how to make the most fabulous tasting authentic dish which will satisfy your family and friends without recourse to anything resembling a couscous recipe. Ingredients:

A traditional couscous dish, as served in the North African restaurants of Paris with mint tea and Algerian pop music is usually a choice between Lamb, chicken or Merguez sausage. There's also the 'Couscous Royale' which is a bit of all three, but you probably won't want to bother with that at home. These days people like to make up versions which are all vegetarian or seafood as well. It all depends on two things: What you like to eat, and what you have in the cupboard.

The single most important coucous ingredient, apart from the couscous grain itself, is a bowl of chick peas. This is important because if you are starting with dried chick peas ( tinned, cooked chick peas are never going to give the right texture so I'd say always use dried) then you need to think ahead and put the chick peas to soak the day before. The other thing is harissa sauce. That's the spicy red chile sauce made with the best fiery pimento chilli, garlic and caraway seed. The best one is made in Tunisia, not France. "La phare du cap bon". Fererro is also good. Squeezy tubes or little tins, it doesn't matter which. Stock up when you can find it. You'll also need root vegetables, onion, butter and some tomato or puree - not much.

Couscous Recipe - method

This is not a couscous recipe - method

I told you I wasn't going to give you a couscous recipe, and I've already explained the flexible approach to ingredients. Now here's the method.

The stew needs to be cooked long and slow. Seal and brown the meat first, then put it in the big pot. Add some onions, quartered not chopped, and big chunks of root vegetables. If you're using potatoes then put them in a bit later than turnips and carrots. Liquid goes in when the bottom starts to catch. A slosh of red wine will sort that out. Then enough warm water to just cover the vegetables and make sure that the meat is submerged. Turn the heat down as low as it will go, or better still put the pot in a low to medium oven and leave it to almost simmer away for a good hour or two. If you get this right, and there's no reason why you shouldn't, the meat will be lovely and tender whilst the vegetables still have some resistance. The flavours of meat, vegetable and spices intermingle to make an idescribably satisfying whole. Boil the chick peas seperately then add to the stew half way through. Finally take some of the liquid from the stew and use that, diluted with water, to rehydrate the couscous grain.