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STEAMING COUSCOUS IN THE TRADITIONAL MANNER
Throughout this book, for the sake of convenience, I have given directions only for the instant cooking method. However, you always have the option of steaming couscous in the traditional manner, the way it is done in most Moroccan kitchens. To do this, in a large pot or in the bottom element of a couscoussier, bring water or broth to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl. mix 1 cup couscous with ¾ cup water. Let stand until the liquid is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Place the moist couscous into a colander that fits tightly over the pot, or into the top element of the couscoussier. Seal the seam between the two elements with a strip of cloth covered with a thin paste of flour and water. Cook, uncovered, until steam emanates from the surface of the couscous granules, 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer the couscous to a large, shallow bowl. Add a small amount of olive oil, butter, or smen (see page 24) as the recipe dictates. Using your fingers, rake it while adding ¼ cup of water or broth. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Return the couscous to the colander or the top of the couscoussier, and cook again until steam rises through the couscous, 10 to 12 minutes. The couscous granules will triple in size during the steaming process (1 cup raw couscous yielding approximately 3 cups cooked).
Return the couscous to the large, shallow bowl. Rake again with yourfingers to break up any lumps. The couscous granules should be light and fluffy. At this point, you can proceed as directed in the recipe.
Toasting nuts intensifies their flavor. To toast on top of the stove: Place nuts in a dry, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shake the pan back and forth, or stir with a wooden spoon until the nuts turn a light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. To toast in the oven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the nuts in one layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
To release the intense flavor of saffron, toast the threads or dissolve them in liquid before combining them with the other ingredients. To toast: Place the threads in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and stir constantly until they release their distinctive aroma, 50 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and pestle. Add a pinch of salt and grind to a fine powder. To dissolve: Put the saffron threads in ¼ cup warm broth or water. If using the latter technique, make sure to subtract ¼ cup of liquid from the amount called for in the recipe.
PEELING AND SEEDING TOMATOES
Make two small, intersecting cuts on the blossom end of each tomato. In a medium saucepan filled with boiling water, blanch the tomatoes for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and let cool. Peel off the skins with your fingers. Cut the tomatoes in half, and gently squeeze out the seeds.
Over an open flame or under a broiler, grill the peppers, turning them carefully with tongs, until the skins blister and blacken, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or plastic bag, and seal. Let cool. Peel, seed, and derib the peppers. Set over a colander to drain. Proceed with the recipe, or refrigerate for later use.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the papery husk from several heads of garlic, but do not separate into individual cloves. Place them in a small, ovenproof dish. Bake, uncovered, 50 minutes to 1 hour. The garlic is ready when the pulp squeezes easily from a clove. Roasted garlic will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
MOROCCAN PRESERVED LEMONS
Preserved lemon is one condiment Moroccan cooks simply cannot do without.
Makes 1 quart
12 unblemished lemons of equal size Sea salt or table salt
1 Scrub the lemons under running water and pat dry. Cut a thin slice from each end of a lemon. Set on end and make a vertical cut three quarters of the way through the fruit, leaving the two halves attached. Turn the lemon upside down, rotate 90 degrees, and make a second vertical cut, again three quarters of the way through the fruit. Fill each cut with as much salt as it will hold. Place the lemon in a sterilized, 1-quart-size, wide-mouth canning jar. Proceed in this manner for the remaining lemons, pressing as many into the jar as possible. Seal and set aside at room temperature. Add additional lemons over the next few days as the rinds of the first lemons begin to soften. By this time, the juice should have risen to cover the lemons. If not, add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice mixed with 1 teaspoon of salt. This will prevent the top lemons from darkening. Store at room temperature until the rinds become tender, and the pulp acquires the consistency of jam, 3 to 4 weeks. Refrigerate. Use within 6 months.
SMEN/MOROCCAN PRESERVED BUTTER
Preserved butter, with its deep, pungent aroma and distinctive flavor, enhances many of Morocco's savory dishes, especially couscous.
Makes 1½ cups
1 pound unsalted butter (pasteurized or unpasteurized)
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Wrap the oregano in a small piece of cheesecloth. Tie the sachet with cotton string, and set in the butter. Simmer until the butter separates into a clear, golden liquid and a milky sediment, 25 to 30 minutes. Carefully pour off the golden liquid (clarified butter), and strain through a piece of clean, fine muslin. Discard the milky sediment and oregano sachet. Transfer to a hot sterilized glass jar. Add the salt and mix until dissolved. Cover and let stand in a cool place until the mixture becomes pungent, 1 to 2 weeks. Drain any liquid from the jar and refrigerate the butter. Use within 6 months.
HARISSA/NORTH AFRICAN HOT SAUCE
The popularity of harissa, the Tunisian condiment par excellence, has spread throughout North Africa. Tunisians mix it liberally with almost every dish, while Algerians and Moroccans prefer to serve it on the side, adding it according to individual taste. The piquancy of your harissa will depend upon the variety of dried chile peppers you select. For mild harissa, use New Mexico red or guajillo; for medium, pasilla or chipotle; and use cayenne or habanero for the hottest harissa. Wear protective rubber gloves when working with chiles. Do not rub your eyes!
Makes about 1 cup
12 dried chile peppers
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for topping
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
1 Wearing rubber gloves, open the chiles. Remove and discard the seeds. With scissors, cut the chiles into small pieces. Place in a bowl of warm water and soak until they soften, 25 to 30 minutes.
2 Drain the peppers and squeeze out any remaining water. Place them in a blender with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and cumin. Process until smooth. Transfer to a sterilized pint jar. Cover with a thin layer of oil. Use within 6 months.
NOTE: You can find commercial harissa in cans or tubes in Middle Eastern markets and in some large supermarkets. If it is unavailable, substitute Tabasco sauce, Thai hot sauce, or Indonesian sambal manis.
|Steaming Couscous in the Traditional Manner||20|
|Peeling and Seeding Tomatoes||22|
|Moroccan Preserved Lemons||23|
|Smen, Moroccan Preserved Butter||24|
|Harissa, North African Hot Sauce||25|
|Sicilian Fish Cuscusù alla Trapanese||28|
|Rock Cornish Game Hens with Dried Fruit and Couscous|
|Fennel Couscous Tunisienne||32|
|Algerian Couscous with Lamb Meatballs, Lima Beans, and|
|Spicy Tunisian Couscous Soup||37|
|Berber Barley Grit Couscous with Winter Vegetables||38|
|Moroccan Sweet Couscous with Almonds, Raisins, and Orange|
|Beef Couscous with Prunes, Butternut Squash, and|
|CONTEMPORARY RECIPES APPETIZERS, SOUPS, SALADS||45|
|Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Goat Cheese—Pesto|
|Mushrooms with Couscous, Feta Cheese, Pine Nuts, and|
|Grape Leaves Filled with Couscous and Ground Lamb||49|
|Chicken Vegetable Soup with Mint Couscous Dumplings||50|
|Peruvian Spinach, Couscous, and Feta Cheese Soup||53|
|Couscous Onion Soup with Gruyere Cheese||54|
|Red and Black Bean Chili con Couscous||55|
|Goat Cheese Couscous Croquettes en Salade||56|
|Couscous-Prosciutto Tomato Baskets||57|
|Couscous-Parsley Salad with Preserved Lemon||58|
|Vietnamese Couscous Salad||60|
|Couscous Meatloaf Chermoula||63|
|Boeuf Bourguignon with Mushroom Couscous||64|
|Indonesian Couscous Stir Fry||67|
|Lettuce-Wrapped Couscous Terrine with Dilled Shrimp and|
|Couscous Salmon Patties with Green Pea and Pine Nut Sauce||71|
|Couscous Fritters with Fresh Corn and Tomato Salsa||72|
|Couscous Marinara with Sweet Italian Sausage||74|
|Couscous Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon||80|
|Couscous Tonnato with Fried Caper Buds||82|
|Eggplant Terrines with Couscous, Pancetta, and Portobello|
|Steak and Mushroom Pie with Double Gloucester Couscous||87|
|Couscous alla Milanese with Asparagus||88|
|Curried Couscous Croquettes with Ribboned Vegetables||90|
|Togolese Couscous in Peanut Sauce||93|
|Couscous with Lentils and Crispy Onions Rings||94|
|Shredded Pork Couscous Tamales with Tomatillo Sauce||96|
|Baked Onions Filled with Couscous and Preserved Lemon||98|
|Coconut Milk Couscous Curry with Seared Scallops||100|
|Couscous Quenelles Florentine||102|
|Chocolate-Amaretto Couscous Truffles||105|
|Raspberry Couscous Trifle||106|
|Couscous Mango Mousse||108|
|Couscous Pumpkin Flan with Crape "Honey"||110|
|Pineapple-Banana Couscous Tamales with Coconut-Cream|
|Couscous à l'Orange with Almonds and Dates||115|
|120||TABLE OF EQUIVALENTS|