Sunday, December 30, 2012

Couscous and Tajine

So Madeleina is getting old enough to try some different tastes. The other day I served my quick Moroccan lunch feast, and then yesterday I went further with couscous and tajine. That was a dish I loved to make in the restaurants; then I went to Morocco and learned how they did it, and after that I had a hard time making it in the restaurants. People would tell me that they were in Morocco or Algeria or Tunisia when they got married and would my tajine be as good as what they had there. No, I'd say. And I cannot bring the magic back to your marriage with a meal, no matter how good I am. It was the same with people who wanted to know if my tomato sauce was a good as their grandma's. My sauce might have been 100 times better than grandmas--and generally was--but I still knew I could not compete with childhood memories.
   Now Madeleina is a clean slate. So I went and bought good lamb. I floured it and seared it in olive oil, then added lots of garlic and diced onions. While they cooked I had a pot on another burner with 1 inch pieces of organic carrots and 1/2 inch slices of a large organic potato. When they were done, at about the same time the garlic and onion was done, I drained them and added them to the heavy pot. Then I cut a yellow squash and a  zuccini, par boiled them, cut them into half-rounds and added them to the pot. To that I added 1/2 inch pieces of 4 large celery stalks. Then a diced tomato.
    While those veggies and the meat were cooking, I added two cans of good organic chicken broth, reduced the heat, and let it simmer under a cover.
   In another pot I put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil infused with fresh garlic, added a tablespoon of butter. When that was done I seasoned that with sea salt and cracked black pepper, then added a cup of water. When the water was close to boil, I added a cup of excellent couscous, stirred, tossed in a big three finger pinch of chopped fresh cilantro and turned off the heat.
   While that was turning into something wonderful, I peeled and sliced, very thinly, a cucumber and put it into 1 pint of organic Greek yogurt. I added some fresh minced cilantro, salt, pepper, juice of a lime and let that sit.
   Back to the stew: With everything marrying every other thing, I added two teaspoons of fantastic Peruvian paprika, a teaspoon of Peruvian tumeric, a teaspoon and a half of Peruvian cumin, then hot red pepper, cardoman, a bit of cinnamon, juice of three limes and a drained/washed one pound can of garbanzo beans (cheating, I know, but I didn't think of making the dish in time to make fresh beans). As the stew cooked down under medium heat, I added half a bunch of really really good fresh cilantro, minced, a tablespoon of fresh diced ginger, then sea salt and black pepper to taste.
   Then we called Italo and by the time he came over, the tajine, the stew, was done. So was the couscous, light and fluffy and flavorful. And so was the raita, the cucumber/yogurt/lime side dish.
   Then I served the tajine over the couscous with the raita on the side. Total time: About 2 hours. The meat could have been eaten by a toothless person. So tender you could have gummed it. No fooling.
   Do we eat like pigs or what? Cause that was very very good. And I'm very very glad that both Italo and Madeleina are old enough to allow me to begin to open up my recipe cabinet to include some different flavors.
   Glad I'm alive, is what I'm thinking. Glad I got to eat that last night. Cause it was very very delicious. And if you're in town, I've got left overs. So come on by.

1 comment:

shutterbug said...

Peter my brother.
A Happy and Healthful New Year to you!

Thank you for the recent Amazon reunion after 13 years! It was amazing to spend time with you again on the Amazon. I thank you from my heart.

All the best always,