Monday, November 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Peanut Butter Granola Bars 1

Now, I would be the first to tell you that these are not going to win any beauty contests.  That said, what they lack in looks, they more than make up for in taste.  This week is our monthly Pot Luck at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we continue to cook with Giada de Laurentiis, and I'm bringing these Peanut Butter Granola Bars to the party.  Once word gets out about the deliciousness lurking behind that rather unattractive looking facade, these little bars will be wallflowers no more.

These have loads of texture - oats, slivered almonds and chunks of chocolate - only just held together with peanut butter, honey and brown sugar (all of which add their own flavour notes).  When Deb at Kahakai Kitchen made these a few weeks ago, she mentioned that she had issues with crumbling, and as she discovered so did many others who commented on the original recipe.  Many people offered all sorts of advice to resolve that - less of this, more of that, etc - but there also seemed to be nearly as many people who didn't have problems.  Lacking the baking savvy (I've told you that before) to start tinkering with the recipe, these sounded good enough to me to risk a bit of "crumblage", so I decided to stick to the original recipe first time around.

The only changes I made to the recipe were:  firstly, I didn't bother pre-toasting the almonds - just seems like a bit of an unnecessary step to me;  secondly, I used a slightly smaller tin than that which was suggested (because that was what I had), so my bars are a little bit thicker than is perhaps intended - not necessarily a bad thing;  and thirdly, and this was more by accident than design, was the cooking time.  The recipe says, "Bake ...... 15 minutes.  Remove from oven ..... cool ... 1 hour."  My mind read "bake for 1 hour", and into the oven it went.  At 30 minutes things were smelling very toasty, and I went to turn it around in the oven - my oven doesn't brown evenly, and everything has to be turned around about half way through cooking.  At this stage, I thought "if this cooks for another 30 minutes it will be burnt to a crisp!"  That was when I read the recipe properly.  So my bars ended up with 30 minutes of baking instead of 15, which I think did firm them up quite a bit.  After cooling at room temperature for about an hour, I then refrigerated for a couple more hours before cutting.  End result - a little bit crumbly, but not too bad.  I have found it necessary to keep them in the fridge though - as soon as they are left out of the fridge for a bit they start to crumble a bit more.  Incidentally, these will not be dry and crisp as you might expect from a granola bar, but are actually more moist and soft - ever so slightly cakey - again, not necessarily a bad thing.

Can't help myself - I have been eating these for breakfast every morning.  What?  Don't raise your eyebrows at me.  This is cereal, nuts, peanut butter, honey, and egg - how is that not breakfast?

Peanut Butter Granola Bars 2

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Adapted from recipe by
Makes 16-24 bars (depending on size of tin)
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

vegetable cooking spray
1 egg white (save the yolk for mayonnaise)
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

Spray a 18cmx27cm (7x10-3/4 inch) (I used a 20cm (8 inch) square) non-stick baking tin with cooking spray.  Line with baking paper, allowing excess paper to extend beyond edges of the tin, and spray the paper lightly with cooking spray - don't be tempted to leave this out.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg white until frothy.  Stir in the peanut butter, brown sugar and honey.  Add the melted butter, rolled oats and slivered almonds.  Stir to combine everything, and then stir in the chocolate chips.

Tip the mixture into the prepared baking tin, and spread out, pressing lightly to form an even layer.  Bake until the edge of the mixture begins to brown - about 15 minutes (I baked for 30 minutes).  Remove from the oven, cool for at least an hour, then refrigerate for another 2-3 hours, before cutting into squares.

Store in the refrigerator.

Interested in getting to know Giada a bit better?  Then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all been cooking up ....


.... or check out Giada's Kitchen and many of her other titles, available from Amazon, Book Depository UK and Fishpond NZ

Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites    Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California    Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pork Chops with Saffron Baked Potatoes

Pork Chops with Saffron Baked Potatoes 1

As I have told you here before, I eat a predominantly vegetable-based diet.  This has more to do with my preference for vegetables over meat, than any opposition to the killing and consumption of animals.  As long as humane practices are observed in the raising and killing of those animals, then I am not opposed to eating them.  I am also convinced that for most of us the consumption of some animal products - meat, fish, eggs and dairy products - are essential to maintain optimal health.  I know all the vegetarians and vegans out there would probably have a lot to say about that - say what you like - that is my belief (based on much research, reading and reflection, I might add) and I'm sticking to it.

Anyhow, I'm not about to turn this post into a lengthy dissertation on the rights-and-wrongs, pros-and-cons of eating anything - I'm just saying that I'm not that much of a meat-lover and I would happily sit down to a big bowl of vegetables or a beautiful bowl of salad, than a big, juicy steak, any night of the week.  I never think of vegetables or salads as side dishes - for me they are definitely the main event.

I've also got to tell you that, as long as pigs roam this earth, even if I wanted to I could never become a vegetarian.  As you already know, I think just about everything can be made a little better with bacon and, whilst that big, juicy steak might not excite me .... dangle a pork chop in front of me and I would willingly give up state secrets, absolutely no torture necessary.  You really need to know, up front, that if your life ever depends on my keeping schtum about something, you sure as heck better hope that my captors don't manage to come up with a pork chop!

I have a few favourite pork chop recipes that I love and frequently come back to.  The first is this recipe for Pistachio and Blue Corn Tortilla Crusted Pork Chops by The Enchanted Cook - I think this might have been the first recipe I discovered on Veronica's beautiful blog, and it was such a big hit around here that, not only have I made it several times since, but I have become a regular visitor at The Enchanted Cook - check it out, I'm sure you'll love it too.  Another favourite pork chop recipe that gets made often around these parts is this one from Nigella Lawson for Mustard Pork Chops with Gnocchi.

The recipe I'm sharing with you today, will definitely be added to that list of favourites, and I know I will be making it again many times over.  Potatoes are baked in a saffron and sage infused broth, while pork chops are baked on top of them allowing all that beautiful "piggy" flavour to permeate the potatoes.  The original recipe called for onions in here as well, but I used wedges of fennel instead, and added a few sage leaves - really, what goes better with pork than fennel and sage? - not much.  The original recipe is by Kate Nichols and comes from the November 2007 issue of Delicious magazine.

Pork Chops with Saffron Baked Potates Recipe
Adapted from recipe in
November 2007 issue of Delicious magazine
Serves 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1kg potatoes (I used red ones, cut into quarters lengthwise)
2x fennel bulbs, halved (quartered if they are large)
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons boiling water
1-1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt & pepper

4x rashers streaky bacon, cut into strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
fresh sage leaves

4 pork chops
salt & pepper
extra sage for garnish

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

Toss together the potato, fennel wedges, olive oil, saffron and its soaking liquid, and stock in a roasting pan.  Season well with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pork Chops with Saffron Baked Potatoes 4

Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over high heat, and cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove from the pan, using a slotted spoon, and sprinkle over the top of the potatoes in the roasting pan.  Tuck a few sage leaves in amongst the vegetables.

Pork Chops with Saffron Baked Potatoes 3

Season the pork chops on both sides with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Using the same pan you cooked the bacon in, over high heat, sear the pork chops for 1-2 minutes on each side until lightly browned.  Place the pork chops on top of the potato mixture, and bake until the pork is golden and the potatoes are tender - around 40 minutes.

Pork Chops with Saffron Baked Potatoes 2

Scatter a little extra fresh chopped sage over the top and serve.

I'm submitting this post to Magazine Mondays - mmmm, can't wait to see what else is cooking.  You can find last week's round-up here at "Cream Puffs in Venice".


I'm also submitting this post to the Hearth and Soul blog hop, a place where you'll find lots of wonderful people who are passionate about great food and cooking from the heart - do go and have a look at what they're all cooking this week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Roasted Pepper & Sweet Potato Pasta - Quick & Easy # 7

Roasted Pepper & Sweet Potato Pasta 4

Today I have a wonderful pasta dish to share with you - one of those serendipitous discoveries that comes about when an unplanned fridge/pantry raid to come up with a meal without having to run out to the supermarket yields unexpectedly good results.

I had only myself to feed and thought it might be a good opportunity to get creative with a few leftovers.  A scramble around in the fridge unearthed half a yellow pepper, one orange pepper, one lonely little bocconcini, a piece of feta and some olives.  I also discovered a sweet potato, and about three packets of varying pasta shapes, each with just a handful of pasta left in them.

Roasted Pepper & Sweet Potato Pasta 2

First of all preheat the oven to about 220 degrees C (425 degrees F), and set a large pot of water over high heat to boil.

Peel the sweet potato and cut into chunks.  Core and deseed the peppers and cut into thick slices.  Put both the sweet potato and peppers into a roasting pan, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cook in the preheated oven until the vegetables have softened and are starting to brown and caramelise - about 20 minutes.

Add pasta to liberally salted boiling water and cook until al dente.

Drain pasta and put into a warmed serving bowl.  Crumble cheese over the pasta and toss through.  Add the hot vegetables, a good handful of olives.  Drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil (the best you can lay your hands on) and add a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.  Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Toss everything together well, and serve immediately.

Roasted Pepper & Sweet Potato Pasta 1

This was one of the best pasta dishes I've had for ages - I loved the combination of the caramelised peppers and sweet potato with the sweet tartness of the pomegranate molasses, spiked with the saltiness of the feta and olives - I thought this was a winner.  I will definitely be wanting to make this again, and now that I've shared it with you I'll be able to do that.  You see, so often I create something in the kitchen, without keeping any record of it, and then some months later when I want to make it again I can't remember what I did.  Do you do that?

Roasted Pepper & Sweet Potato Pasta 3

I'm also submitting this post to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast - you will be able to see a full round-up of all the submissions there on Friday 3 December.   In the meantime, visit Denise at Oh Taste n See on Saturday 27 November to see a round-up of last week's entries.  I'm looking forward to checking out a whole lot of new pasta dishes.

A Thought for the Pike River 29

In this brief post I want to ask you for a prayer, or a special thought, or whatever it is you might do when the need arises.  

I know that over this weekend many of you are celebrating Thanskgiving, and I have received many uplifting messages and read some heartfelt blog posts hearing about the many things you are grateful for.  A common thread in these messages seems to be gratitude for the place that family plays in all of your lives, and I hope that every one of you is able to relish every minute of your holiday weekend with your loved ones, or that your loved ones are kept safe if they are away from you.

At the same time, I am asking you to spare a thought for a number of New Zealand families (as well as families in Australia, the UK and South Africa) who suddenly and dramatically now find themselves without a son or father, husband or boyfriend, uncle or brother.

You see, last Friday a major explosion ripped through the Pike River Coal Mine on the remote west coast of the South Island, trapping 29 men below ground.  Although rescue teams and experts (some arriving from all over the world) were on stand-by for several days, high levels of toxic gas in the mine prevented rescue workers from entering the mine.  Tragically, all hopes of rescuing the men alive evaporated Wednesday afternoon when another even bigger explosion occurred and it was concluded that none of the trapped men could possibly have survived.

Now, I guess in some parts of the world that might not seem such a big deal - especially if you've lived through or lost family in events such as warfare, the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, or the attack on the World Trade Centre on 9/11.  By comparison, the loss of 29 lives seems insignificant, but if you're a regular reader here then I'm pretty sure that you're the kind of person who thinks that the loss of one single life, in any tragic circumstance, is one life too many.

Here in New Zealand, we are a tiny nation of just 4 million people - the town of Greymouth where most of the miners came from has a population of just 10,000 (some of you probably live in suburbs that are bigger than that).  You can imagine then that the sudden loss of 29 men touches the lives of virtually every single family in such a small town;  and, in a small country like New Zealand where, as our Prime Minister said when he made a statement, we have a proud history of "being our brother's keeper" and of standing shoulder to shoulder with each other in times of adversity, such a devastating loss touches the hearts of each and every one of us.  I cannot imagine the grief of these families and their wider community, but I can only say that my thoughts are with you all and I hope that the longed for recovery of the bodies of your loved ones will soon be possible so that you can have your sons, brothers, husbands, lovers and fathers back.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce 1

Now after my post for Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs a couple of days ago, you could be forgiven for looking at this and thinking that I've obviously got some kind of fixation right now with meatballs.  The truth though is that I actually made these some months back, and didn't get around to posting them.  Now, since it's time to get together my weekly Cookbook Sundays post, and I haven't actually delved into the books this week, and since a good many of you out there in blogland are thinking and talking turkey right now, it seemed like a good time to get this out of draft and share it with you.

This recipe did actually come from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, which I've told you about a couple of times, so it does qualify for a submission to the Cookbook Sundays group.  Now if neither of my previous posts (here or here) have convinced you that you need this book, then perhaps this one will, and if you're still not convinced then keep coming back to my blog as there will be many more Ottolenghi posts to come.  I am one of those cooks, and I know I am not alone in this, who usually thinks that if I get one really good recipe that I keep coming back to time and again out of a book then it has been a good investment.  There are also cookbooks I own, that I sit and read and pour over the pages, but which I have never cooked out of, which is largely why I started posting to Cookbook Sundays.  But not this book - I think I've made more dishes out of this book than any other cookbook I've ever owned, and I've still barely scratched the surface.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Recipe
Adapted from "Ottolenghi: The Cookbook"
Serves 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

For meatballs:
1 cup sweetcorn kernels  (fresh or frozen)
3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
500g (1 lb) turkey breast, minced
1 large egg, free range
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

grapeseed oil (or other neutral flavoured oil) for frying

For sauce:
4 red peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
handful fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small mild red chilli, deseeded
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

To make the sauce:  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).  Meanwhile, cut the peppers into quarters, and remove the seeds and the white "pithy" seams.  Put them into a roasting tray with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and roast until soft - about 30-40 minutes.

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce 5

Transfer to a bowl, along with any pan juices, cover with cling film, and allow to cool.  At this stage you can remove the skins if you like, though it really isn't necessary.  Add them to a blender or food processor, including the juices, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, coriander, garlic, chilli, sweet chilli sauce and white wine vinegar.  Process until sauce is smooth, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Set aside.

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce 4

To make the meatballs:  Begin by heating a non-stick skillet over high heat, and add the corn kernels to the dry pan.  Keep tossing them in the pan until lightly blackened, which will take just 2 or 3 minutes.  Remove and set aside to cool.

Soak the bread slices in cold water for a minute, then squeeze well and crumble into a large bowl.  Add the minced turkey, flat-leaf parsley, minced garlic, ground cumin, salt, pepper and blackened corn.

Shape the mixture into balls, about the size of a golf ball - it is helpful to have a small bowl of water handy and work with damp hands.  The meatballs could be made ahead up to this stage and refrigerated until you are ready to cook them.

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce 6

Heat grapeseed oil (to a depth of about 5mm (1/4 inch)) in a heavy skillet.  Once the oil is hot, cook the meatballs in small batches (5 or 6 at a time), turning them from time to time until they are golden brown all over.  Transfer to an oven tray and finish cooking in a 200 degree C (400 degree F) oven until completely cooked through - about a further 5 minutes.

These can be served hot or warm, with the pepper sauce on the side - I served them on a bed of couscous, drizzled with the sauce, and a crisp green salad on the side.

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce 2

I made these during the winter using frozen corn (and loved them by the way), but now that summer is on the horizon, I'm looking forward to making them again with fresh corn.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

I'm submitting this post to Cookbook Sundays, hosted by the lovely Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.  She's worth a visit any day of the week, but why not head over there right now and see who else has dusted off their cookbooks - you'll almost certainly find some great recipes, and maybe you'll discover a new book you'd like to add to your collection.

cookbook sundays          

I'm also submitting this post to the Hearth and Soul blog hop, a place where you'll find lots of wonderful people who are passionate about great food and cooking from the heart - do go and have a look at what they're all cooking this week.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs 1

Whilst living down here at the bottom of the world has many advantages, there are times when I so often feel out of step with so many of you out there in the blogosphere.  For example, right now, nearly every second blog I look at is featuring something to do with pumpkin, while all of my food at present is revolving around asparagus, artichokes, broad beans (favas), and fennel.

Spring Vegetables

So many of you are talking about Thanksgiving right now, and featuring everything from what you will be eating for this festive occasion to how you will be setting your Thanksgiving table.  Well, we simply don't do Thanksgiving here in New Zealand, and we really don't even have any similar kind of celebration, so I confess to being somewhat bewildered by it.

Then the dilemna of what to make this week for I Heart Cooking Groups, where we are cooking with Giada de Laurentiis, and our theme this week is Fall Favourites.  Oh, this topsy turvey world - not only am I out of season, but we don't even call it "fall" here - down under it is most definitely "autumn".  Not that clarifying that got me any closer to deciding on a dish.  I thought about coming up with a Spring Favourite, just to be contrary, but in the end opted for a dish which I think will end up on our list of favourites just about any time of year.

I remembered a few weeks ago that Kim at Stirring the Pot made Giada's Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs and the idea of tiny chicken meatballs, little cherry tomatoes, and little bocconcini mozzarella nestled into those "little ears" of pasta was very appealing.  At the back of my mind I remembered Kim mentioning in her post that she had thought the meatballs would be a little bland, so she had added some garlic.  Sage advice, I thought and did the same.  I also happened to have (courtesy of a kind and generous student) a lovely bunch of fresh tarragon, so I swapped out the parsley in the original recipe for said tarragon.  I've got to say that this really did give the meatballs a beautiful flavour, and is definitely a change I would make again.   You can read Kim's post here, and I suggest that you do.  You see, being the inherently lazy person that I am, I never bothered to read the comments on Giada's original recipe, and I didn't bother to revisit Kim's post either until just now when I was looking for the link for you.  Had I done so, I would have found that she addresses a problem I faced with these - specifically that of "floppy balls".  Yes, once I'd mixed up the meatball mixture according to the recipe, I found that the mixture was very sloppy, and there was no way on this earth that this was going to be formed into balls.  Best I could do was drop spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking tray and hope for the best.  Now I could have taken the food processor out again and made more breadcrumbs, but as I mentioned before I'm lazy!!  The upshot of all this was that the taste was great, but my meatballs really didn't resemble balls so much as domes - round on top and flat on the bottom.  See what I mean ...

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs 2

Having now reread Kim's post, I think she is right - one egg instead of two (especially if they are large) will be more than enough for this quantity of meat, and extra breadcrumbs may also be necessary to reach a malleable consistency - I've made these adjustments to the recipe below.  Also because I knew my "meatdomes" would be hard to handle, I partially baked them in the oven first, and then finished them off in a pan - I would have done this anyway though, because quite frankly who wants to stand over a whole lot of tiny little meatballs?!  The only other minor changes I made to the recipe were substituting the ketchup originally called for with some good quality tomato paste, and substituting romano cheese with parmesan.

One last thing - the original recipe suggests that this quantity of ingredients will make about 60 mini meatballs - I used teaspoonfuls of mixture and ended up with 36 little "thingies" which were about twice the size of my orecchiette, so they could clearly be made much smaller if you have the patience.

This definitely is the kind of dish that would be a big family favourite, though I do think that the combination of the tiny meatballs with the cherry tomatoes and bocconcini gives this enough elegance to make it suitable for occasions when perhaps a little more sophistication is called for.

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs Recipe
Serves 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

500g (1 lb) orecchiette pasta

For meatballs:
500g (1 lb) ground chicken
1/4 cup fresh plain breadcrumbs (plus extra if needed)
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon (or flat-leaf parsley)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups hot chicken stock
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
225g (8 oz) bocconcini, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (plus extra for garnish)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).  Bring a large pan of water to the boil over high heat.

In a medium bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, tarragon, garlic, egg, milk, tomato paste, parmesan, salt and pepper.  Gently mix in the ground chicken.  If necessary add more breadcrumbs, or more beaten egg, in order to achieve the desired consistency.

Use a teaspoon or melon baller to scoop the chicken into small pieces, and roll into tiny meatballs - damp hands is helpful.  Place the meatballs onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned all over and almost cooked through - about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven.

Liberally salt the pan of boiling water, and add the pasta.  Cook until the pasta is al dente.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add the meatballs, and continue to cook for a few minutes, rolling them around in the pan from time to time, until well browned on all sides.  Add the chicken stock and tomatoes, and bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the tomatoes are just softening.

Drain the pasta, reserving about one cup of the pasta water.  Add the drained pasta to a large, warm, serving bowl or platter;  add the parmesan;  and toss to coat the orecchiette well with the parmesan, adding some of the reserved pasta water if necessary.  Add the meatball mixture, the bocconcini, and chopped basil.  Toss gently to combine everything well, garnish with extra basil and serve immediately.

Interested in getting to know Giada a bit better?  Then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all been cooking up ....


.... or check out Giada's Kitchen and many of her other titles, available from Amazon, Book Depository UK and Fishpond NZ

Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites    Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California    Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes

I'm also submitting this post to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by Denise at Oh Taste n See.  I'm looking forward to checking out a whole lot of new pasta dishes.

I'm also linking this to Let's Do Lunch at Chaya's Sweet & Savoury blog.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Moroccan Chermoula Fish Kebabs with Couscous

Moroccan Chermoula Fish Kebabs 1

Here is a fish dish that you are going to want to make over and over again this summer.  Okay, I know a lot of you are headed towards winter right now, not summer - but, take my advice and bookmark this one right now, because when summer rolls around you will definitely want to make these, and you don't want to find yourself (with a barbeque planned) scratching your head and wondering where you saw this recipe.  Go on, do it now - I'll wait ......  Oh and, by the way, if you find yourself in six months time enjoying a balmy evening out on your patio, with a bunch of these on the barbeque, please don't email me and tell me what a wonderful time you're having - by that time I'll be rugged up in a blanket or huddled over the heater and the last thing I'll want to hear about is the warm, sultry evenings you are having!!

Anyway, back to the kebabs.  These have loads of flavour;  they are healthy and delicious, quick and easy to prepare, and in fact can be prepared largely in advance;  they are colourful and gorgeous to look at;  they take just moments to cook;  and, let's face it, who doesn't love food on a stick?!  What's more, if the weather's not great outside, these can just as easily be cooked on a chargrill indoors (as I did) - so there you go, you don't need to wait for summer - you could make these right now wherever you live.

This recipe came from the November 2007 issue of Delicious magazine and, in my endeavour to whittle down my large pile of food magazines, is my contribution this week to Magazine Mondays.  I did make a couple of small changes to the original recipe - I omitted red onion from the chermoula and spring onion from the couscous (since, as I'm sure you know by now, we don't do onion at our house).  I also added some chopped pistachios and preserved lemon to the couscous.

Moroccan Chermoula Fish Kebabs with Couscous Recipe
Adapted from recipe in
Serves 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
pinch saffron threads
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups coriander leaves
large pinch flaky sea salt

800g thick, firm-fleshed fish (I used monkfish), cut into 3cm (1-1/4 inch) cubes
1 red pepper, cut into 3cm (1-1/4 inch) squares
1 orange or yellow pepper, cut into 3cm (1-1/4 inch) squares
16 fresh bay leaves

2 cups couscous
1 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
handful of shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
skin of half a preserved lemon, finely sliced

To serve:
plain yoghurt, optional

Put all of the chermoula ingredients into a food processor, and process until a coarse paste is formed.  Remove two tablespoons of the paste and set aside, then coat the pieces of fish in the remaining mixture.  Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for one hour.

Moroccan Chermoula Fish Kebabs 3

Meanwhile, if you are using bamboo skewers for your kebabs, soak them in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.

After the fish has marinated, thread a bay leaf onto each skewer, then alternate pieces of fish with the coloured peppers, and finally finishing each skewer with another bay leaf.

Moroccan Chermoula Fish Kebabs 2

Preheat a chargrill pan or barbeque to medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, put the couscous into a bowl with the two tablespoons of marinade that you reserved earlier.  Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the couscous, stir, and cover loosely with a tea towel.  Set aside for 10 minutes.  Fluff the couscous up with a fork, stir in the chopped pistachios, preserved lemon, and remaining coriander leaves.

Cook the kebabs on the heated grill plate, turning until fish is completely cooked through and slightly charred - this will take approximately 6-10 minutes, depending on the type of fish you have used, and how tightly you have threaded your skewers.

Serve the kebabs on a bed of the couscous and drizzle over some of the yoghurt.

I'm submitting this post to Magazine Mondays - mmmm, can't wait to see what else is cooking.  You can find last week's round-up here at "Life's a Feast".