Category Archives: smoked

couscous variations

Couscous is a great fast food. The variations below are nearly a meal in itself but get yourself some spicy sausage or lamb chops to go with it and you have a great lunch. You can vary the ingredients indefinitely.

Basic couscous

1 cup couscous (precooked)
1 cup strong broth, vegetable or chicken
1 tsp smoky harissa paste or smoked paprika powder (pimento de la vera)
2 tbsp olive oil

Bring the stock to a boil, dissolve the harissa or pimenton, stir in the couscous, cover and let sit for 10 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Stir to break up, add the olive oil.

Fennel, pear and nuts couscous

1/2 fennel bulb
1 pear
100g brown mushrooms or oyster or fresh shiitake
2 cloves of garlic
1 Orange
almonds or hazelnuts
chopped mint, and/or coriander and/or parsley

Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius, when browned put them in a cloth and rub the skin off. Cut the fennel and mushrooms into strips, cut the garlic into thin slices. Fry the garlic with the mushrooms and fennel, salt. Cut the pear into cubes, juice the orange. Add the orange juice, mushrooms and fennel to the couscous and finally the chopped herbs and pear.

Some yoghurt with roasted and ground coriander and cumin seeds goes well with this.

lemon & pomegranate couscous

1 large pomegranate
1 lemon, juice and zest
chopped mint, and/or coriander and/or parsley

Zest the lemons, blanch the peel a couple of times. Scoop out the pomegranate seeds and remove the white membrane around the seeds. Add the lemon juice to the couscous, then the other ingredients.

Merquén – Smoked paprika spice mix from Chile

Merquén is a hot, smoky and aromatic spice mix from Chile traditionally used by the native Mapuche population. It is now in fashion in Europe and the US, so you might find it in a specialised shop or you can make you own. I bought some “cacho de cabra” peppers in a market in Santiago De Chile, which are the base of this spice mix. They have a very distinct flavour, somewhat comparable to Spanish “pimenton de la vera” or smoked paprika but with their very own aroma. You could try smoking some fruity red chillies as a replacement. Merquén is great with steaks and in meatballs. For a heavenly roast chicken, just rub a whole chicken with this, inside and out and roast it. You’ll love it. Continue reading Merquén – Smoked paprika spice mix from Chile

Lapsang Souchoung Chicken Breasts

Tried Thom’s recipe for chicken in lapsang souchong salt crust – delicious, but quite a big waste of salt for such a simple dish. Then I remebered the technique of brining mentioned in “The Best Recipe” for turkey and this works well here:

chicken breasts
1 cup of cold lapsang souchong tea, not too strong
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Make a cup of lapsang souchong tea, add half a teaspoon of salt. Brine a chicken breast in this for 1-2 hours. Dust with flour, fry in a cast iron pan. Perfect. Fast. Easy.

More info on brining:

charred aubergines

This is essentially the same as muttabal or baba ganoush but simpler:

1 large aubergine per person.
garlic, olive oil, lime juice, salt

Halve the aubergines, place them on baking paper on a tray. No need for oil. Grill on highest temperature for 20-30 minutes until completely burned on the outside. Scoop out the flesh in chunks. Serve warm, sprinkled with a good olive oil, squeezed garlic, a bit of lime juice and fleur de sel. Had it in Jerusalem served on a bed of tahini and with some herbed & spiced oil which makes an interesting contrast of textures.

When roasting over an open gas flame, the flesh seems to stay firmer than in the oven. Maybe if the oven is set to the highest temperature and the aubergines are very close to the grill then this can be achieved in the oven as well.