Couscous Lesson

Several weeks ago Raizy, the daughter of a good friend of mine taught me and her mother how to make couscous. Raizy married into a Tunisian/Moroccan family and learned how to make couscous from her mother-in-law. I have wanted to learn how to make couscous ever since I bought Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. I love North African food and have always used instant couscous and always felt like I was cheating. I thought it would be too complicated to make, but after my lesson, it really isn’t that hard. It is a bit time consuming, but you can make it in advance and keep it in the freezer. My husband made a vegetable tagine and we used one of our two packages of couscous. It was delicious. I am saving the other one for when we move to our new home next month. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the vegetable couscous, but I promise I will feature the couscous in February.

Thank you Raizy and Miriam, I really enjoyed our “Girls Night Out”.

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Raizy's Couscous
Ingredients
  • 1 kg 2.2lbs white semolina
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola or light olive oil
  • 5-1/4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Couscousier
  2. Fill 1/4 of the bottom of a couscousier with water and place on medium heat.
  3. Cornmeal Texture
  4. Place 1kg of semolina in a very large bowl.
  5. Oil and Mix
  6. Mix the salt into the oil and drizzle over the semolina.
  7. Cornmeal Texture
  8. Mix with a hand-held mixer until you get a cornmeal consistency.
  9. Thicker Cornmeal Consistency
  10. Slowly drizzle 1-1/4 cups of water to the semolina mixture and mix with a mixer until you get a thicker cornmeal mixer. Let the mixture rest for five minutes.
  11. Sifting 1
  12. Sift the semolina in a second very large bowl and set aside any lumps that you cannot breakdown.
  13. Couscousier Inside
  14. Steam Couscous
  15. Place the mixture in the top of the couscousier and steam for 30 minutes over medium heat.
  16. Steamed Couscous
  17. Pour into a very large bowl and let cool. Then add 4 cups of water, stir in with a wooden spoon and let the mixture rest until all of the water has been absorbed. Sift again, removing any lumps and steam for an additional 30 minutes on medium heat. Pour into a large bowl and let cool.
  18. Fine Consistency
  19. Sift the mixture and place in plastic containers or use right away. You can keep the couscous in the freezer for a couple of months or in the refrigerator for three or four days.

Happy 2008!

The previous year was a whirlwind for me. It was a year of a couple of firsts, one was celebrating the first anniversary of my first and hopefully only marriage. Second, was writing my first blog. I have really enjoyed sharing new cooking and travelling adventures with all of you and don’t worry, there is much more to come.

I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2008. May all of your wishes come true.

New Year’s Eve is not widely celebrated here in Israel because in Judaism, the new year is Rosh Hashana, which normally falls in September or the beginning of October, depending on the Jewish Calendar. We went to a friend’s house for dinner, but did not say celebrate the new year, it was just a dinner with friend’s. We feasted on entrecote, lamb chops, lentils, zucchini, salad, homemade tomato bread, roasted potatoes and plenty of champagne.

To close the meal, I made Tarte au Citron. I know some of you will shriek that I made a parve version of this tarte, but it was as delicious as when I make it with butter. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. This recipe is from chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry, Bouchon and Per Se restaurants in the United States. The crust is made with pinenuts, but you could easily make it with a plain tart crust of your choice. Just make sure that the tart crust does not contain a lot of sugar. The lemon filling is lemony and very creamy because you make it using sabayon method, which means that you rapidly whisk the mixture over a bain marie until it is thick and creamy.

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Pine Nut Crust
Recipe from Bouchon by Thomas Keller Because this dough uses only one egg, it is difficult to make in a smaller quantity. You will use one-third of this recipe to make the Lemon Tart; freeze the extra dough for another time.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups pine nuts 283g or 10 ounces
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 226 g 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the sugar and flour and continue to pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix to incorporate all the ingredients (the dough can be mixed by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before using. The extra dough can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to 1 month.
Print
Pine Nut Crust
Recipe from Bouchon by Thomas Keller Because this dough uses only one egg, it is difficult to make in a smaller quantity. You will use one-third of this recipe to make the Lemon Tart; freeze the extra dough for another time.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups pine nuts 283g or 10 ounces
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 226 g 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the sugar and flour and continue to pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix to incorporate all the ingredients (the dough can be mixed by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before using. The extra dough can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to 1 month.
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