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Sweet

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Savoury 

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It's been a while and I'm actually a bit embarrassed, but I do have an excuse.. I was traveling again and God willing more about that soon. So to make up, I'm going to give you a double treat, two recipes in one post. First up, I must say I have only just discovered cooking couscous – a bit late in the day, after several years of basking in the kitchen. So, what ignited this sudden interest ? Well ! I was flicking through one of my favourite cookbooks, Tom Kime's Exploring Taste + Flavour and saw this wonderful picture of jeweled couscous, with just looked so colourful, I thought "I've got to try this one day" and that day was several weeks back. However, I didn't blog about that experience because being a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to tastes and food visuals, I wanted for one of the key ingredients to be in season. So here it goes and I must say the "Jewel" part of the couscous really defines it, as some of the ingredients really are like jewels, at least from a sourcing and monetary perspective as you've got unsalted pistachios (more expensive than salted ones), dried cranberries and pomegranates (in season from about September to November). There's other stuff like a bit of orange juice, raisins, dried chillies, sesame seeds, parsley, coriander and rucola (or rocket or arugula leaves) and also olive oil and of course hot water and couscous itself. As a bit of a non-conformist, I modified the recipe slightly to make it more "tasty" from my perspective, so I actually fried some onions, garlic and butter beforehand. So you need;

Savoury Version

300g of medium sized couscous

500ml boiling water

3 tablespoon of olive oil

3 tablespoons of orange juice

Juice from half a lemon

1 tablespoon of dried cranberries

seeds from half a pomegranates

50g of pistachios

50g of sesame seeds

Bunch of parsley, coriander and rucola

Half an onion roughly chopped

1 clove of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of butter

Put the pistachios into a hot frying pan and dry fry for about 2 minutes stirring regularly until fragrant, then add and fry the onion, roughly chopped with the butter, the minced garlic and dried chillies for about 5 minutes – take off the heat and then add 2 tablespoons each of pomegranates and raisins, 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries and put aside. Measure the couscous and pour the hot water inside together with the olive oil, orange and lemon juices. Cover with cling film or foil and leave for 5 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Break up with a fork and put into the frying pan and give it a good stir with the other ingredients. Now add the leaves and serve.

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Sweet Version

Last year at the leaving party of a former colleague from Tunisia, I was introduced to breakfast couscous, which on first sight I thought… "that's a bit strange, couscous with nuts, served as a breakfast" but after one taste, I almost embarrassed myself by serving up 3 bowls for my palate. Apparently sweet is a popular choice amongst for breakfast amongst Tunisians, who already fight with Morocco to claim the staple pulse as their main food and culinary introduction into the World. In any case, the thought of a making a sweet couscous never left my head and you can imagine I was pleasantly surprised when I finally came across a recipe inside Marie Claire's Kitchen. So one morning, bored with the usual toast and cereal brekkie, I decided that the time was right to try sweet couscous for breakfast. Again I adapted it to suit my taste and used half a portion of milk mixed with water as opposed to just hot water. I topped with with another in-season fruit, fresh figs. So here you need,

100g of couscous

125ml of hot water

125ml of fresh milk

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon of brown/demerara sugar

1 tablespoon each of cranberries (optional), pistachios (optional), vanilla pod (optional) and raisins

1 tablespoon of almond slivers

Top with Yoghurt, fresh fruit and a bit of honey

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Pour the couscous, cinnamon, honey, sugar, salt and milk and water mixture into a saucepan on medium heat and stir. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat and leave to stand for another 5 minutes. Break up with a fork and add the raisins, cranberries and pistachios (if using) and the almond slivers. Put into a bowl and top with 2 tablespoons of yoghurt, drizzle of honey and fresh fruit like below.

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Note on Couscous: Because it is such a strong pulse, you really need to flavour it well. So for the sweet one, you may need to add more sugar and for the savoury one you may need to add more salt and spices, because couscous absorbs a lot of flavours and if you go easy on the spices it will taste quite bland.