Posts Tagged ‘easy’

Herbed Spelt Couscous with Grilled Asparagus & Halloumi

couscous

Every once in a while I decide to put my prejudices aside and try out a recipe from a magazine. Well, to some extent…
I know this may sound a little arrogant, but good recipe writing is a rarity these days. Even well-known food writers are increasingly publishing books (written by ghost writers, may I add) with recipes that simply do not work. As a recipe writer myself, I question whether or not the recipes are tested before publication. I know how disappointing it is when a poorly written recipe ends up in failure and a waste of ingredients, so my recipes are always tested before being submitted to an editor or published on this blog. I want people to gain confidence in the kitchen, not be turned off by disasters that are a result of crappy recipe writing.
Anyhow, to get back to my point…
This past weekend I picked up a copy of the newest Allerhande, a magazine published by Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn. While I prefer to shop at exclusively organic supermarkets and markets (geez that also sounds snobby!), I regularly visit the supermarket for their organic line. I usually leaf through their magazine quickly, but rarely make one of the recipes. This issue, however, featured a really tempting couscous dish I knew I would have to make. It was really my intention to follow the recipe, yet as I was cooking I decided to give it my own twist. The original version (found on page 64 of the April issue) also looks very appealing, though if you’re making it, use 480ml of water to cook the couscous and broccoli rice. The specified 350ml simply isn’t enough!
Here’s my variation, to what already looks like a great recipe:

Herbed Spelt Couscous with Grilled Asparagus & Halloumi
Serves 4

  • 300g spelt couscous
  • 400g broccoli rice
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 480ml boiling water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • fleur de sel
  • 15g mint, leaves chopped
  • 15g chives, chopped
  • 15g parsley, chopped
  • 350g green asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 400g halloumi, in 8 slices
  • handful of almonds, chopped

In a large bowl mix the couscous, broccoli rice, ras el hanout and pepper. Pour in the boiling water and close with either a lid or plastic wrap. Allow this to ‘cook’ for 10 minutes. Make a dressing by whisking the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. Pour this over the cooked couscous, add the chopped herbs and stir well. Divide the couscous over 4 plates. Grill the asparagus for approximately 4-6 minutes in a lightly oiled grilled pan. Season them with salt at the very end. Divide the asparagus over the couscous. Grill the halloumi for 1-2 minutes per side and divide the slices over each plate. Garnish each plate with chopped almonds and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Summer Dining: Spicy Lemon Chicken & Grilled Vegetables

Though the first magazines with pumpkins on the cover have hit the shelves, I am not quite ready to let go of summer just yet. I want to enjoy my favorite season until the very end, and I especially want to get the most out of the flavors this time of year has to offer. Summer cooking is as easy and carefree as the season itself. No-cook meals such as salads, beef or fish tartares and cold soups are quick and often very healthy, but sometimes, even on hot days, I will suddenly get the urge to roast a chicken — which happens to be my husband’s favorite food. He still recalls going out for dinner with his parents on their anniversary and always ordering the same thing — roast chicken with fries and mayonnaise. You can imagine his delight when he sees a meal like this on the table!
summermealAnd our delight, too, because last night’s dinner was perfect in every way. From the lemony, crispy-skinned chicken to the conversation and love shared around that table. Because food and eating together as a family, you see, is and should be an immense source of pleasure.
When Hans texted me on his way home from work to ask if I needed anything, I had a chicken marinating in the fridge, and on one of my vintage French plates, a pile of freshly-washed summer vegetables was waiting to be sliced and grilled. The wine, a rosé purchased in Spain just a few weeks ago, was chilling in the freezer. The only thing missing was something for our apéro, so I asked for some olives.
After a day of work and the hurried pace of everyday life, the three of us sat down to our well-deserved drinks and nibbles, while the chicken roasted and French music played softly in the background.
Today I am sharing these two recipes with you. Serve them on pretty plates, savor the moment and enjoy.

Spicy Lemon Chicken
The key to a quick cooking time is to spatchcock your chicken. This simply means removing the backbone and flattening the chicken. You can ask your butcher to do this for you, but with a pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears or a sharp knife, it’s really not that difficult. I always save the backbone for stock, so nothing goes to waste.
Serves 4

  • 1 chicken (of about 1 kilo), spatchcocked
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes, or more, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • fleur de sel
  • freshy-cracked pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bulb of garlic, sliced in half and torn apart
  • fragrant olive oil

Season the chicken on both sides with the chili flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Put it in a large Ziploc bag, cut the lemon in half, squeeze in the juice and add the garlic cloves and olive oil. Marinate in the fridge for at least two hours. Take the chicken out of the fridge about half an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 200C, place the chicken breast side up on a baking tray and pour the marinade over the chicken. Bake for 20 minutes and then flip over to bake for another 20 minutes. Flip the chicken again and give it a final 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Grilled Summer Vegetables
This is such an easy way to bring out the flavor of perfect summer vegetables. I don’t think it’s really necessary to write out a full recipe. Just heat up a grill pan and griddle your vegetables, placing them on a serving plate as you go. Once done, sprinkle with roasted pine nuts and fresh herbs, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with good olive oil. For the three of us, I used one large aubergine, one courgette and two red bell peppers.

Risotto with Shrimp & Peas

 

risotto Risotto is always a good idea. Just like pasta, the creamy Italian rice dish is quite versatile. In the colder months, I love risotto with earthy flavors such as mushrooms, pumpkin and sage, and come the spring and summer, lighter variations made with seasonal veggies and seafood have my preference. One of my favorite risottos to make in the springtime is with peas, juicy shrimp and plenty of aromatic dill, freshly chopped and stirred in right at the end.
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Roast Chicken & Chickpea Salad

salade met geroosterde kip en kikkererwten

French markets are pure joy for the senses: the dairy stalls with their impressive varieties of cheeses, straight from the farm and one more tempting than the next; the butchers with their thick, rustic hams and sausages enticingly dangling from above; the rainbow displays of fruits and vegetables that mirror the seasons; and of course, the stalls selling a selection of gourmet products such as jams, vinegars, olives and wine.
It’s hard to visit a French market and not leave without a whole lot of inspiration — not to mention a basket nearly bursting at the seams. Cooking and eating well are an art in France, and one of the reasons for that is the availability of excellent products.
I came up with this easy salad recipe after buying a roast chicken at the market in Duras one Monday morning. They are always so hard to resist. You’ll see them slowly roasting on a spit, and with each turn, becoming as succulent and golden as ever. That afternoon, we ate half of it with a side of potatoes (roasted directly under the chickens). Here’s what I did with the leftovers. You won’t need much to serve with this. Except a smooth glass of Merlot, of course.
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