Healthy, Moroccan, Tagines

(Amazing) Moroccan Couscous

Serves: 4

Couscous is not something I have ever paid too much attention to when cooking a tagine or whatever it might be.

(The exception being Jamie Oliver’s Couscous Stuffed Roast Chicken where the couscous is the star of the show.)

My usual approach – couscous, olive oil, hot chicken stock, currants and maybe some slivered almonds – has been unceremoniously described by Nat – at its worst – as “glug”.

A criticism I’ve accepted because as I said, I’ve never paid too much attention to it: especially when a cracker of a tagine is ladled on-top.

This recipe affirmed what I have always known about couscous and that is that it can be so wonderful – even on its own – when shown the time. It can be much more than just a ho-hum base to a great tagine and it can certainly be much more than just glug.

To point, this couscous blew Nat away and she agreed it was tremendous.

In fact, I recall her saying something to the effect that it was the best couscous she had ever had.

Make the effort and do this. It is bloody amazing, light and wonderful tasting…. and turn-around your detractors in their steps.

Ingredients

450ml chicken stock
200gm couscous
½ red onion, finely diced
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
60gm dried currants
Handful whole almonds, roasted
80gm butter, diced
2 egg yolks, beaten
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Method

  1. Over a high heat, in a medium-sized pot, bring the stock to a boil.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and season well.
  3. When the stock is boiling, pour it over the couscous mixture, give it a stir and cover with glad wrap. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover and gently run a fork through the couscous to fluff it up. Check your seasoning and serve.
Standard
BBQ, Beef, Mince, Sauces

Jamie Oliver’s Insanity Burger

Makes: 4 big`burgers

A while back, we passed the all important step of understanding that for any burger to be amazing, it has to start with amazing, fresh mince.

Not the variety you get from the supermarket and certainly not the lean stuff you might otherwise use in a mince.

Instead, you need a quality cut of steak (chuck or similar), you need to see it minced in front of you on a coarse grain and you need to cook it within 24-hour.

This and this alone will set you on the path to a superb burger.

There are then plenty of directions and approaches you can obviously take and a fried green chilli burger we cooked last weekend only scratches at the surface of where you can go.

For me however, nailing the quintessential, classic burger was a bit of a must before venturing off in these many possible directions: nailing a burger with ketchup, American mustard and good egg mayo.

I previously typed up Neil Perry’s classic burger as simply that: a classic. And it really is a classic in every sense of the word.

This Insanity Burger then is like taking what is already a classic sportscar and really seeing what you can do with it. Pushing the outer limits of the handling, engine and design.

Hand on heart, it deserves the name Insanity Burger.

Nail this burger and you will have successfully passed Level 1 of the burger game; free to play the next level and start down whatever direction you choose.

Just make sure you get your mince right.

Ingredients

800gm freshly mince chuck steak
Olive oil
1 large red onion, finely sliced
White wine vinegar
2 large gherkins, sliced
4 brioche burger buns, halved
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
4 tsp American mustard
Tabasco Chipotle sauce (Woolworths and Coles have it)
4 thin slices of Red Leicester cheese (ditto)
4 tsp tomato ketchup

For the burger sauce

¼ of an iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp egg mayonnaise
1 heaped tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Tabasco Chipotle sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp brandy or bourbon

Method

  1. Divide the mince into four and roll into thick, patties, 2cm wider than your buns.
  2. In a bowl, dress the onion with the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. For the burger sauce, combine the ingredients in a bowl.
  4. In a pan over a low heat, cook your bacon to the point of crispiness.
  5. Heat your grill as high as possible, rub your burgers with a bit of oil and grill; after 1 minute flip and brush each cooked side with ½ tsp of mustard and a dash of Tabasco. After 1 minute more, flip and repeat.
  6. Cook for another minute or two and then place two pieces of crispy bacon on top and then the cheese. Grill until the cheese melts; grill the buns at the same time.
  7. To build the burger, add a quarter of the burger sauce to the bun base, add the cheesy burger, a quarter of the onions and the gherkins. Add 1 tsp of ketchup on top and close.
  8. You passed!
Standard
Italian, Poultry

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Serves: 4.

I had completely forgotten how good Chicken Cacciatora was until I did this number.

What a fool!

Seriously, this is so good. The richness, the warmth, the depth of flavour. And so easy.

This is a Jamie Oliver version and served with some Italian potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts, it was just glorious.

And served on some toast the next morning for breakfast?

You would have a queue at your cafe if you simply did that. Genius.

I substituted chicken thigh for the whole chicken simply to make things easier; if we were entertaining, the whole chicken would have been the go.

Either way, do this old-fashioned Italian dish and you’ll be a hero.

Ingredients

1 x 2kg chicken, jointed (or 1kg of chicken thigh)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 clove of garlic peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
½ bottle of Chianti (the other ½ is for you, my friend)
Flour, for dusting
Extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
A handful of green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400gm tins of tomatoes

Method

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and put them in a bowl. Add the bay leaves, rosemary sprigs and the crushed clove of garlic and cover with the wine. Leave to marinate for at least an hour and preferably overnight in the fridge.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Drain the chicken reserving the marinade and pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Dust the chicken with flour and shake off any excess; especially important if you are using thigh meat only.
  3. Heat a large saucepan, add a good splash of olive oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over and set aside.
  4. Place the pan back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Gently fry until golden brown and then add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes and chicken pieces together with the reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
  5. Skim any oil that has collected at the top of the sauce, remove the bay leaves and rosemary stalks, season and serve.
Standard
French, Seafood

Jamie Oliver’s Salmon en croute

FullSizeRender (5).jpg

Merry Salmon Christmas!

Jamie Oliver’s Salmon en croute

Serves: 4

We did a seafood themed-dinner the evening of Christmas Eve and one of the dishes we prepared was this number from Jamie Oliver.

It is something I have wanted to try for a while and with a beautiful side of salmon right from the fish markets (we doubled the recipe) it was a real hit: the sauce, the pastry, the thick, flaking salmon and the wonderful watercress and spinach filling.

Complete with Christmas pastry-work by Nat, it looked and tasted just like Christmas and it was just as good as a cold snack on Boxing Day.

I’m slightly sad thinking it will be almost a year until I can cook this number again…

Ingredients

Olive oil
2 French shallots
100gm baby spinach
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
200gm baby leaf watercress
1 tbsp butter
1 lemon
1 whole nutmeg , for grating
200gm crème fraîche
500gm thick, skinless salmon fillet, pin-boned
500gm puff pastry sheets
1 large egg, whisked

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and brush it with a little oil.
  2. Peel and finely chop the shallots, roughly chop the spinach, then pick and chop the parsley leaves. Chop half the watercress, leaving the rest whole.
  3. To make the filling, warm the butter and a splash of oil in a pan over a low heat. Add the shallots and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft but not coloured.
  4. Add the spinach, parsley and chopped watercress to the pan with the zest and juice from the lemon. Season to taste and stir in a good grating of nutmeg.
  5. Cook down the leaves for 3 to 5 minutes, then mix in 1 tablespoon of the crème fraîche.
  6. Tip it into a sieve set over a bowl and press to squeeze out the juices. Leave the filling to cool.
  7. To make the sauce, blitz the remaining watercress and crème fraîche in a food processor with juices from the bowl. Season and transfer to a bowl and chill until needed.
  8. Slice the salmon fillet in half sideways, so you can open it like a book.
  9. Spoon the cooled filling down the middle, fold the fish back over to close and set aside.
  10. Prepare enough pastry sheets to fully wrap the salmon: 2, maybe 3.
  11. Place one piece of pastry on the baking tray and lay the salmon on top in the middle. With your finger, dab water around the edge of the pastry, then lay the other piece on top.
  12. Mould the pastry around the fish with your hands, then press the edges with a fork to seal. Score the top with a knife, then beat and brush over the whisked egg.
  13. Bake the salmon in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp.
  14. Serve with the watercress sauce.
Standard
Beef

Jamie Oliver’s Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with a Puff Pastry lid

Serves: 6

This pie is a real winner.

I pulled it from Jamie at Home, one of Jamie Oliver’s excellent books and it is a serious cooking homerun. It is so rich, with the stewed meat and the pastry all around – not just on top – and then there is the cheese.

I have done this pie twice, both times with a mash and peas.

Winter can stick around a bit longer if it means pies like this!

Ingredients

Olive oil
3 medium red onions , peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 carrots , peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery , trimmed and chopped
4 field mushrooms , peeled and sliced
1 kg quality brisket of beef or stewing beef , cut into 2cm cubes
A few sprigs fresh rosemary , leaves picked and chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
440 ml Guinness
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
150 g Cheddar cheese , freshly grated
340 g ready-made all-butter puff pastry
1 large free-range egg , beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c.
  2. In a heavy saucepan on a low heat, heat some olive oil and then add the onions and gently fry for 10 minutes, trying not to colour them. Turn the heat up and add the garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Stir together well before adding the beef, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper.
  3. Fry fast for 3 to 4 minutes and then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1 ½ hours.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and stir. Return to the over for another hour or until the meat is tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick; you want a thick gravy.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, season and set aside to cool.
  6. Grease a casserole and lay pastry on the bottom and walls, ensure that there are no gaps. Tip the stew in, even it out and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover with the remaining pastry and criss-cross it lightly with a sharp knife. Brush the top with beaten egg and then bake the pie in the oven for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed.
Standard
Moroccan, Poultry

Jamie Oliver’s Couscous Stuffed Roast Chicken

 

Serves: 4

This roast chicken is on a whole other level and a quick read through the ingredients will tell you why.

It looks and tastes dramatic. Real Jamie sort of stuff. The filling forms such a fabulous base for the chicken – so much so that you almost don’t need a side.

Though an orange, olive and onion salad couldn’t hurt!

Enjoy as much as I did.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken
1 cup couscous
Zest and juice of an orange
Zest and juice of a lemon, reserving the lemon halves
2 handfuls of pistachios, or any nut,  roughly chopped
2 handfuls of dried blueberries, or any dried fruit
1 large handful of fresh mint and parsley, plus a little extra to throw on top, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more to coat chicken
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cardamon seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Put the couscous, orange and lemon zest and juice, dried fruit, nuts and fresh herbs in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and half a cup of warm water and mix everything together.
  3. With a mortar and pestle or spice blender, pound all the spices with the salt until you have a powder.
  4. Stuff the bird with the couscous mixture. Block the cavity with lemon halves that you have squeezed the juice from. This will keep the couscous from falling out of the chicken.
  5. Rub the chicken with a little olive oil and all of the spice mixture. Throw on the rest of the fresh herb mixture.
  6. Roast the chicken for an hour or so until a thermometer reads 70c. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
Standard