The Last Cookies of 2011
2011 was a big year worldwide: The Arab Spring, tsunami in Japan, death of Kim Jung Il to name a few. For the Lee family there were many changes on a slightly smaller scale: Ian finished the didactic portion of his MHA/MBA and relocated temporarily to D.C. to complete his training. Sophie attended sleep-away summer camp for the first time and became quite a baker. Maddy spent her Spring Break building houses for Habitat for Humanity, and I started a blog, made a short-lived return to biking and realized how much I hate being a geographical single mom. We made two big trips to Hawaii and Alaska, each with it's own beauty and accompanying photo-book. We kept some of our 2011 resolutions and neglected others. Our 2012 resolutions are still germinating, but as usual, will include a return to healthier eating after the holiday excess. One goal is to limit the amount of meat we consume, and to buy most if not all of this meat from local/humane sources while avoiding smugness on the Portlandia scale.
I have never missed the meat in any recipes from Ottolenghi's "Plenty." I made this recipe that alleges to feed "4, or even more," and had more than even more. I cut the harissa by half because the original recipients do not do spicy, and omitted the preserved lemon because I didn't have it. It has complex, layered flavors that require a lot of ingredients but it's worth it. The end result is hearty, spicy, sweet and completely satisfying.
The Ultimate Winter Couscous
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
8 shallots, peeled (I also cut mine in half)
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp hot paprika
1/4 tsp hot chile flakes (I omitted these too)
2 1/2 cuts cubed butternut or pumpkin
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 cup chickpeas
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup couscous (I used whole wheat)
large pinch saffron (after the Christmas spending? nope, omitted this as well)
1 cup boiling vegetable stock
3 TBS butter, broken into pieces (omitted, truly didn't need it)
2 TBS harissa
1 oz. preserved lemon, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375F. Place carrots, parsnips, and shallots in large ovenproof pan. Add cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves, 4 TBS olive oil, 3/4 tsp salt and all the other spices and mix well. Cook for 15 minutes.
Add pumpkin, stir and return to oven. Cook an additional 35 min, by which time the vegetables should have softened while retaining a bite. Now add the dried apricots and the chickpeas and the 1.5 cup water. Stir and return to oven. Cook an additional 10 min til hot.
Meanwhile, place the couscous in a large heat-proof bowl with 1 TBS olive oil, saffron and 1/2 tsp salt. Pour boiling stock over couscous and cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave for about 10 min. Fluff with fork and add butter if desired.
Stir harissa and lemon into vegetables, taste and adjust salt as needed. Spoon over couscous and finish with plenty of cilantro leaves.
Here's to keeping some more resolutions this year!