Apologies for the extended absence but the computer was being mended so I couldn’t blog or access any of my photos, so frustrating. On a positive note all this spare time afforded me a window of opportunity to join Pinterest.
Oh dear, it’s very addictive, I mean really, if you haven’t already got an account, give it a go. It’s a great way to organise all your favourite things from the internet onto different boards so you never lose or forget about that fantastic recipe, that amazing paint colour or that must-have pair of shoes. The Washer Up is threatening to leave me but said he would have to put it on my Pinterest feed or I wouldn’t even notice. No, really?
So if you want to see what I would like our lounge to look like when he has eventually finished re-rendering all the walls, what food I will be cooking, what food styling and photography inspires me and what shoes and bags I own in my dreams, then why not follow Cook Eat Live on Pinterest here. He just said “or you could try getting a life instead”, so rude!
I said in my previous post for the Grape & Fennel Seed Focaccia that I have been watching Moscatel grapes turn to raisins on the vine at one of the small farms that I run past with the dog in the mornings. This got me thinking about recipes including raisins.
At the same time one of our friends brought us some beautiful saffron all the way back from Afghanistan. He is another one of those men (like this pink watermelon martini loving guy) who would have to kill me if I told you his name. No, seriously he would. Apparently.
So, raisins and saffron take you in a certain direction gastronomically, and I had been wanting to try out a Moroccan restaurant in Malaga called Al- Yamal for a while. So, with my friend Caroline and my camera, I jumped on the bus and made a day of it. It being eating and drinking of course.
The restaurant is tiny, only about six tables, but comfortable and beautifully decorated so you are immediately transported to a Moroccan souk by the fabrics, lanterns, arches and delicious smells coming from the equally tiny kitchen. We were the only people in there when we arrived apart from the owner reading in the corner, his wife in the kitchen, his father with his grandson on another table and his son taking our order. A proper family business.
The food was lovely as was the service. We had the hummus with homemade pita bread, a roasted red pepper salad and the seven vegetable couscous to share. Caroline also ordered a lamb kebab which she said was delicious. The vegetable couscous comes to the table in a painted terracotta tagine. As the lid is removed you are drawn in by the warm scent of cinnamon, you see the different vegetables and chickpeas piled up the sides of the golden mound of couscous and the plump raisins and toasted almonds on top. You are also given a separate jug full of the spiced stock used to cook the vegetables to pour over as you wish. That was the best bit for me, I really enjoyed the whole dish and decided to try to recreate it when I got home.
Malaga continues to surprise every time I go. There is always something new to discover food-wise, bar-wise or culture-wise which makes it my favourite city and one of Spain’s best kept secrets.
The seven vegetables you use can be whatever you have and whatever is in season but I would definitely use some root vegetables as they keep their shape with the cooking process. I used carrots, butternut squash, green beans, courgette, leek, green beans and red onion. Parsnips, turnips, potatoes or sweet potatoes would also be lovely.
Moroccan Seven Vegetable Couscous with saffron & raisins
Serves 6, vegan. Adapted from The Vegetarian Times
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, quartered & cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 leek, halved washed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- a big pinch saffron
- 1/4 tsp crushed chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- salt & black pepper
- about 3 tomatoes, cored cut into 8 wedges (or 400ml tin chopped)
- 1 litre veg stock
- 500 -750 ml water
- a small bunch parsley & coriander stalks
- 1 courgette, quartered & cut into 2 inch batons
- 250 gr carrots, peeled, halved (or quartered) and cut into 2 inch batons
- 200 gr green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 350 gr butternut squash, peeled cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks
- 1 tin 400 g cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
- 100 g raisins (I used Moscatel raisins they are bigger and juicier)
- 50 gr flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan until golden
- 1 squidge of honey
- 300 ml couscous
- 300ml veg stock or water
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- a big pinch of saffron
- olive oil
- fresh coriander and parsley, chopped
Cook the onions in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until softened and caramelising. Add the leeks, garlic,and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes. Add a splash of stock if it gets dry. Then add the saffron and the rest of the spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, adding a splash of stock if it gets too dry.
Add in the tomatoes, stock, 500 ml water and herb stalks. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the hard vegetables (carrots and squash) and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the courgettes, beans, chickpeas, raisins and honey, season well with salt & black pepper and cook for 10 minutes more or until all vegetables are tender, you can some more water if you think it is too dry. Taste and add more honey, salt or even some lemon juice if required
Meanwhile make the couscous. Measure 300ml couscous into a measuring jug and then tip it into a large bowl. Measure the same amount of stock or water and heat it in a saucepan with the pinch of saffron and the ground cinnamon. When boiling, pour this over the couscous, season with salt & pepper, drizzle with some olive oil and quickly mix it in with a fork, not a spoon. Cover with clingfilm and leave to absorb for 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, fluff the couscous up to separate the grains again, with a fork and taste for seasoning. Pile a mound of couscous onto each plate (or a large serving dish/tagine) and make a well in the middle. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the well and arrange some around the edge of the couscous too. Ladle some of the cooking stock left in the pan over the dish and transfer the rest into a jug to serve alongside for everyone to help themselves to.
Top with some toasted almonds, chopped fresh herbs and serve immediately.