Israeli Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Butternut Squash

Cous Cous with Roasted Veg High Res

Here’s one of the secrets about children that nobody tells you…kids are like computers.  No really, hear me out.

You bring one home, set it up, and start to learn how to use it.  You have some stumbles at first as you get your feet wet with the operating system, programs, and apps.  But as days go by your confidence grows and you become more proficient with Baby 0.0.  You settle into a routine and even set up some shortcuts and reoccurring tasks to run automatically.  What’s all the fuss about, you wonder.

Then things get a little buggy. Random little things.  The Nap program stops running for no reason.  Or you forget the password for a Safe Mode reboot after a hard drive shutdown.  No matter how many times you go into the Task Manager and attempt to force close the Pull Momma’s Hair program, it continues to run in the background…taking up valuable parental system resources as you attempt to redirect your child’s attention to less frustrating programs such as The Quiet Game or Go See What Your Father is Doing.

Your child did not come with a Technical Support option so you are left to your own devices…mainly the Google…to troubleshoot.  You’ll find forums and blogs that reassure you that other users are experiencing similar issues.  They won’t have tested and certified solutions but at least you’ll know that you’re not imagining these things.  But you’ll also find sites that insist that every single system failure must be the result of user error since they never experienced any of these problems with their child.  Feel free to ignore those sites.

And then, just when you’ve gotten to the point where you feel confident that you’ve mastered Baby 0.0, a software update automatically downloads and you’ve got an entirely new Operating System on your hands.  Baby 0.0 is gone and no amount of hard drive restores will get it back.  In its place is Toddler 1.0.  You had no warning and no beta testing to get you used to a new OS.

Oh sure, you had heard rumors that a new OS was in the works.  But you figured that you had plenty of time to do some reading on the topic and get ready for what would have to be only minor changes.  Sadly, you were wrong.  And it’s back to square one.

My friends, I’ve been there.  And if it is any consolation, I know I’ll be back there again.  Just as soon as I get to feeling comfortable with the parenting thing, it changes.  And that’s exactly how it is supposed to be.

While I can’t help you unravel the programming language that is your child, I can give you a meal that you can enjoy regardless of how many times you found yourself hitting Ctrl+Alt+Del that day.

Israeli Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Butternut Squash

Adapted from David Lebovitz

BAH Note:  There is something about the distinct tang of preserved meyer lemon that you just can’t get from any other ingredient.  So if you don’t have any in your fridge, do yourself a favor and head over to the Google for a bit of online shopping.  Don’t try and make do with a bit of lemon zest and sea salt…it will only bring bitter disappointment.

  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, cubed (I leave the skin on but you can peel it if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 3/4 cup israeli couscous
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Toss the squash and onion with the olive oil and roast on the prepared sheet pan for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender.  Transfer the squash and onion to a large bowl and add the raisins.

Boil a large pot of water and cook the couscous, along with the cinnamon stick, for about 10 minutes or until done.  Drain the couscous, discard the cinnamon stick, and add the couscous to the bowl of roasted vegetables.

While the couscous cooks, take your preserved lemon and cut it into quarters.  Using the back of a knife, scoop away the pulp from the rind.  Cut the rind thinly into a fine dice and add it to vegetables.  Take the pulp and press it in a small mesh strainer to extract the liquid.  Add the liquid to the bowl of vegetables.

Stir everything to completely combine and taste for seasoning.  Season to taste with a bit of kosher salt and black pepper.

{printable recipe}

Tagine de Poulet

I remember the first time I ever tried couscous.  I was a freshman in college (Go Blue Hens!) and I had taken the train to Philadelphia to visit my friend Yasmine at the University of Pennsylvania. Most of my memories of that trip are pretty fuzzy some 20 years later.  But I remember being envious of the old buildings on the campus, especially Yasmine’s dorm.  She had this cool room with tons of character while I had a cinder block throw back to the cold war.  I also vaguely remember trying to catch the eye of the cute, presumably smart, boys at a party.  And there may have been an outfit completely inappropriate for walking back to her room late at night in the snow.

So how does couscous fit into this story?  Before going to the Penn party, Yasmine and I headed out for dinner.  Now I know I have a somewhat faulty memory but I swear that what I’m going to say next is true.  We ate dinner at Urban Outfitters.  How can I be so sure of that?  A) Because I thought it was completely bizarre that we were having dinner in a store.  B) Because I decided to try something new and ordered couscous for the first time in my young life.  C) And I didn’t like it.  I don’t remember why, but I distinctly remember that it was not an enjoyable experience.  But to this day, when I think of couscous, I think of Urban Outfitters.

It took me years but I gave couscous another shot and learned that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.  As a matter of fact, it is lovely when you serve it topped with  Chicken Tagine.  Or, as it was titled in David Lebovitz’s book, Tagine de Poulet.

Despite furious Googling, I can not find anything on the web that corroborates my story that there was ever a restaurant inside of Urban Outfitters in Philly.  So you’ll have to take my word for it.  I do know for a fact that there was a visit to Urban Outfitters and there was couscous for dinner.  Were they two completely separate parts of the trip?  It was a long time ago and there were adult beverages consumed that night.  Perhaps all of that has made for one big memory mash-up.

I’d ask Yasmine but I lost touch with her after she moved to Australia.  Even in this day of Facebook and Classmates.com, some people are just off the grid.  Yasmine, if by some chance the Universe guides your browser to this post, click on that Contact BAH button at the top of the page…I’d love to hear from you.

Chicken Tagine with Apricots

Adapted from David Lebovitz, The Sweet Life In Paris

BAH Note: You may wish to wear food safe gloves when you toss the chicken with the spice mixture.  Tumeric is BRIGHT YELLOW and can stain your fingers and nails for a day or two even with vigorous hand washing.  Alternately, you could put the spices into a plastic bag, add the chicken pieces, and shake to coat them in the spices.  If using boneless chicken thighs, start checking for doneness after about 45 minutes of cooking.

  • 4 ounces dried apricots
  • 8 bone in chicken thighs, skins removed
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • juice of one lemon

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Put the apricots in a bowl, cover completely with boiling water, and set them aside.

Combine your spices and salt in a large bowl.  Add the chicken pieces and coat them completely in the spices.

Melt your butter in a dutch oven or large pot set over medium heat.  Working in batches, cook the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side then transfer it to a plate.  Add the onion to the pot and cook until translucent.  Add the chicken broth to the pot, return the chicken pieces, and bring to a boil.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 60 to 90 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked.

Remove the pot from the oven, skim any accumulated fat from the top, and carefully transfer the chicken to a platter.  Cover the platter with foil and set aside.

Place the pot on the stove, add the honey and lemon juice.  Drain the liquid from the apricots and add them to the pot.  Cook over medium high heat until the sauce is reduced by a third.  Taste for seasoning and serve the chicken and sauce accompanied with rice or couscous.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Num Yummy

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 10/24/08 at Exit 51.

Num Yummy

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the commercials with Mr. Num Yummy – the guy who can’t get his face out of a cup of soup – raise an interesting question.  Namely, what food do you find so irresistible that you can’t pull yourself away? Like Pooh, sticking a paw in the buzzing hive because that’s where the honey is, I’m a sucker for caramel.

Not the sickly sweet sauce that comes from the grocery store, and not the chalky squares hermetically sealed in plastic either.  Nope, I’m talking about the smooth liquid love that only comes from a pot on your stove.   I’ve been neglecting this love of mine because I can’t resist its charms.  Having it in the house is a one way ticket out of the South Beach life.  But SFC’s birthday is coming up and I thought what better way to say I love you than to make the most cracktastic treat in the world – Chocolate Covered Matzoh Crunch.

The last time I made it, I knew I was in trouble.  My waist, if not my mortal soul, was at risk.  Its powers are that strong.  So the recipe stayed hidden away, surrounded by idols and charms to keep it from calling out to me.  But the caramel would not be dismissed.

It waited for me over at Smitten Kitchen where Deb offered a primer on Caramel Sauce.  And then it led me further away from the light with David Lebovitz’s Ten Tips for Making Caramel and How to Make the Perfect Caramel.  Which was really just its way of getting me back to where this all started with DL’s recipe for Matzoh Crunch.

So after I get back from New York I’m going to say a few Hail Mary’s, sprinkle some holy water, and let the devil back into the kitchen.  If you don’t hear from me in a week, please send help.

David Lebovitz’s Gateau Therese

What happens when a winter storm collides with a planned dinner party?  People cancel.  At least that’s what happened to the December 2010 installment of our Inspired Supper Club.  Fr. Leo was coming in from Emmitsburg, Adam and Joanne were driving up from NOVA, Mary was driving cross town, and Lan was crossing the Boulevard to meet up at our house for a pre-holiday celebration. Then the ice came. And the calls and emails started.  Should we cancel?  Should we continue as planned?

The good thing about my Type A personality is that I usually have a back up plan.  So when Adam and Joanne said they wouldn’t be able to make it, we moved Fr. Leo’s soup into the appetizer spot on the menu.  And when Mary decided that the ice and her brakes were not getting along, I immediately put Gateau Therese to the task of rounding out the meal.

If someone had walked into our house not knowing the chaos that the weather had wrought, they never would have guessed the evening had ever been in jeopardy.  Because The Mistah, Lan, Fr. Leo, and I had an  incredibly Inspired Supper.  While there were a few empty chairs at the table, we had an abundance of laughter and were nourished by the chance to connect with one another.

Gateau Therese

Adapted from David Lebovitz “The Sweet Life in Paris”

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom with a strip of parchment (make it into a sling so you have handles coming out the sides), and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the kosher salt on low speed until foamy.  Increase the speed to medium until soft peaks form.  Add half the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed when the beater is removed from the bowl.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler set over a pot of simmering water.  When just melted, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining half of the sugar, the egg yolks, and the flour.  Stir until just combined.

Mix 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten the batter.  Then carefully fold the remaining whites into the batter just until the batter is smooth and no white streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes until the cake just feels slightly firm in the center.  Cool the cake in the pan then grab the parchment sling and carefully remove the cake from the pan.

{printable recipe}

UnTurkey Recipes

On this day before Thanksgiving the Internets are sure to be chock full of swoon worthy recipes perfect for your Turkey Day table.  For those of us who choose to give thanks with something other than Meleagris gallopavo, here are a few UnTurkey ideas.

Is pork more your flavor?  Then perhaps you should invite David Lebovitz’s Carnitas to dinner.

Looking for a vegetarian option?  How about a nice big bowl of Lentil Soup with Vegetables from Delicieux?  Metric conversions aside, this is a quick and easy soup you will be thankful for.

And if you want to jazz up some sweet potatoes, how about a Warm Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Vinaigrette from The Washington Post?

Happy Thanksgiving y’all.  May your table, and your day, be full.

Flashback Friday – Today’s Count

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 7/2/08 at Exit 51

Today’s Count

If you read my July 1st post, you are already aware of my problem when it comes to collecting recipes.  Just to illustrate how in need I am of an intervention, I thought I’d share with you the recipes I found today. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Today’s Count”

Flashback Friday – David Lebovitz Trifecta

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 5/13/08 at Exit 51

David Lebovitz Trifecta

I thought I would round out my homage to DL with his take on Frozen Yogurt which just so happens to be the only project which fit into my busy weekend. Unlike ice cream, frozen yogurt doesn’t need a cooked base. No fiddling or fussing necessary. Just find some lovely berries, sugar them up a bit, go do something else for two hours, mix in plain yogurt*, process, chill, and churn. This recipe could not be simpler. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – David Lebovitz Trifecta”