Homemade Merguez and Harissa Couscous Salad

Merguez is a spicy African sausage usually made with lamb. It’s one of my favorites, and I wanted to suggest our school meat market start making it, but then I found a New York Times recipe that could be recreated at home without sausage casings. I didn’t think the recipe called for enough spice, so I added more paprika and cayenne.

Kat found a recipe for an herbed couscous salad with harissa and cherry tomatoes. It was the perfect side with the sausage, plus it used the harvest off my cherry tomato plant, my box of couscous and the can of harissa I bought at the eastern market a while ago. I am moving very soon and so every day is an effort to use up the goods that I have and not buy anything extra. The salad is supposed to have a lot more fresh herbs, but we weren’t about to go to the store, so we used the mint and cinnamon basil we could get off Kat’s plants.

I served the whole thing with a little plain yogurt since the sausage and couscous both had a lot of heat.

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Transforming Leftovers

leftover-goat-pita1One week after Easter, it was time to finish off the goat meat left over from dinner last Sunday. Michael and I roasted a goat shoulder with garlic, rosemary and marjoram on Easter. It was good, if not slightly overcooked because I didn't have a meat thermometer.

The next day Michael had the idea to braise some leftover meat for our tapas-style dinner with friends. Thinking of Spanish flavors, we added tomato sauce, paprika and white wine. We let that simmer for at least 30 minutes. It made another nice tapa.

Now today there was still some roasted meat in the fridge — enough for one really hungry person. Enter me, who had just worked out. I pulled the meat apart, tossing out some fat, and put it in a small pot. I added a tablespoon

or two of tomato paste, black ground pepper, red pepper flakes and a few glugs of red wine. I brought it to a boil then let it simmer as I showered. When I came back, I added a little water since there wasn't much liquid left. It tasted too acidic from the wine and tomato paste so I sprinkled in some sugar, let the water cook out, and toasted a pita.

A few minutes later I was enjoying what might have been even better than the goat was a week before. The meat didn't taste like bbq pulled pork, but it reminded me of it because the it was so succulent and a little sweet.

This is my new formula for transforming leftover lamb or goat roasts:

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Tunisian Stew, Moroccan Roast Chicken and Algerian Carrot Salad

Tunisian Stew

Michael and I cooked some impressive dinners for his parents and Kat’s parents, but we had to up the ante a bit for my family this winter. I’ve been cooking magazine meals with my parents for as long as I can remember. (I got my first subscription to Gourmet before I lost my first baby tooth. Not kidding.) So we decided to make a North African feast with lots of lamb, chicken and couscous.

I’ll say two words about this chicken: spice butter. Ok, I want to give you more words: Butter, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne and cinnamon. Rubbed all over. Now, I’m not normally a glutton for chicken skin, but spice butter. I ate everything but the bones.

Roast Chicken (Spiced Butter Rub)

And the dates and apricots in chicken jus? I didn’t even think I liked dates. (I tried one from the box the next day, and they’re nothing without being roasted in spice-buttered chicken jus. Just sayin.)

The stew was also great, even though we totally rushed the process. The Darwell family has too high of metabolism for slow food. Luckily the stew didn’t suffer. The broth was full of flavor and just barely spicy, even with a whole habanero. Though, I have to give credit to the Los Angeles grocery store and the country of Australia for the lamb, which managed to be fork-tender even though we lumped off probably an hour of cooking time.

Carrot Salad

We served the dishes with piles of couscous and a side of

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refreshing carrot and fennel slaw. For dessert, I kept the spice theme going by making dark chocolate tart with gingerbread crust a la Smitten Kitchen.

Choc Ginger Tart

Play some Algerian music from Cheb Mami, Rachid Taha or Khaled. Samira Said from Morocco is good too. If you can recommend any Tunisian artists, let me know.

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